How Does An Eating Disorder Affect The Body

How The Complications That Accompany Anorexia Attack The Body

How Anorexia Nervosa Disorder Affects the Brain and Body | Mass General Brigham

The long term health risks of Anorexia Nervosas on a persons health can be brutal. Even before the physical effects of this eating disorder become apparent, it begins to attack nearly every system in the human body. Like an aggressive form of cancer, it wont stop until it wins. The disease has the highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders. As many as 20 percent of the people who suffer from anorexia will eventually die from it. And the longer a person suffers from anorexia, the greater their risk of dying becomes. Because some of the complications that come with anorexia can last a lifetime, the timeline for detection, intervention, and treatment can be crucial for recovery.

How Becoming Recovered Can Improve Quality Of Life

A constant preoccupation with controlling weight and tending to other eating disorder symptoms can decimate quality of life for patients and people in their support system. With the completion of a great eating disorder treatment program, however, people can restore their quality of life and strengthen connections with those in their inner social circle.

The treatment program focuses on teaching patients how to maintain a healthy weight and exercise routine without the use of overly restrictive behaviors and thought patterns. Upon leaving the treatment center, patients can utilize their skills to effortlessly maintain a healthy relationship with food and physical activity. The elimination of all eating disorder symptoms during the treatment process gives patients their lives back. Without these disordered thoughts and behaviors dominating the day, patients can work on their personal and professional goals without disruption.

Before entering eating disorder treatment programs, many people first experience a huge quality of life dip that has a ripple effect across their inner social circle. With help from a skilled eating disorder therapist, all quality of life decreases can be reversed with a return to healthy eating and exercise patterns.

What Are The Symptoms Of Eating Disorders

The symptoms of eating disorders vary, depending on the disorder:

The symptoms of binge-eating include:

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as a 2-hour period
  • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
  • Eating fast during binge episodes
  • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
  • Eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment
  • Feeling distressed, ashamed, or guilty about your eating
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss

The symptoms of bulimia nervosa include the same symptoms as binge-eating, plus trying to get rid of the food or weight after binging by:

  • Purging, making yourself throw up or using laxatives or enemas to speed up the movement of food through your body
  • Doing intensive and excessive exercise
  • Chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
  • Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and . This is caused by the exposure to stomach acid every time you throw up.
  • GERD and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Severe dehydration from purging
  • Electrolyte imbalance, which could be too low or too high levels of sodium, calcium, potassium and other minerals. This can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

The symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:

  • Eating very little, to the point of starving yourself
  • Intensive and excessive exercise
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted body image – seeing yourself as overweight even when you are severely underweight

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How Does Advertising Affect Body Image

Thousands of years ago paintings and sculptures depicted the ideal female silhouette as curvaceous and plump, bordering on just plain overweight, Some of the earliest recorded are Venus Figurines which are small statues from 23,000 to 25,000 years ago. They are round and pear shaped with large pendulous breasts. This type of ideal shape was the norm up through the 18th century.

Gradually conforming to a newer shape, Charles Gibson, the American artist from the 1890s, drew images of tall, slim-waisted women who still leaned towards the voluptuous.

In the late 1940s actresses and models such as Marilyn Monroe and others with full, curvy bodies grew in popularity, although they were more well proportioned and not actually overweight.

Following this trend, during the 1960s and 70s the thinner body preference became the most desired, such as the well known Twiggy. This freed women from corsets and girdles, but unfortunately this unhealthy practise gave way to another. Diet and exercise were overdone to the point of emaciation, and suddenly anorexia and bulimia reared their ugly heads in a big way.

Can Bulimia Cause Tonsillitis

How Do Eating Disorders Affect Your Body?

Yes! Doctors are not sure why this happens, but research has shown that repeated vomiting can cause recurrent tonsillitis . What medical professionals do know is that bulimic behaviors have a profound impact on the digestive system, including the throat and mouth. It makes sense that the tonsils could also be damaged or impacted by repetitive vomiting.

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How Do Eating Disorders Affect Health And Emotions

Eating disorders can cause serious problems throughout the body.

Anorexia can lead to health problems caused by undernutrition and low body weight, such as:

  • low blood pressure
  • feeling tired, weak, dizzy, or faint
  • constipation and bloating
  • autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • problems at home and school because of eating behavior

How Common Is Binge Eating Disorder

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence highlights that while estimates show over 700,000 people in the UK have an eating disorder, this is likely to be an underestimate. It is almost impossible to estimate an exact figure, because not everyone is aware that their eating is disordered and many are reluctant to seek help. Other studies estimate that 1.23-3.4 million people in the UK have some type of eating disorder.

Despite anorexia and bulimia often being the most discussed eating disorders, there’s evidence to suggest that people with binge eating disorder are far more common. In fact, anorexia nervosa only represents approximately 10% of all eating disorders.

The estimated lifetime prevalence of binge eating disorder in Europe is around 1.9% for women and 0.3% for men. However, this is merely an estimate, since it is difficult to establish a full picture, as not everyone seeks help for their ED, or acknowledges the problem.

Elena Kunicki is a dietician who helps people overcome binge eating disorders.

She thinks many people struggle on a spectrum of binge eating behaviours, although most will not be officially diagnosed.

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The Physical Effects Of Anorexia

Anorexia has very serious physical effects and complications, as well as a devastating impact upon psychological well being.

The effects of anorexia are both short and long-term. There are the immediate physical effects as the body struggles to function without the nutrients and fuel that it needs. The sufferer is also at risk of developing long-term and potentially life-threatening health problems, particularly if the condition is untreated for many years.

At Schoen Clinic, we have over 35 years’ experience providing leading mental health treatment for various conditions and eating disorders. We’re considered as industry leaders in the fields of clinical research and cutting-edge therapies, providing exceptional care for our patients and their families.

The Seriousness Of Symptoms

Binge Eating Disorder (BED): Symptoms, Common Triggers, & Treatment | Mass General Brigham

Clearly, the extensive list of signs and symptoms indicates how serious the problem of an eating disorder can be.

Like with many mental illnesses, the categories of signs and symptoms are extremely unlikely to be experienced individually and there will almost certainly be a crossover between them. For example, someone who has developed anorexia may suffer from depression due to the fact that they feel they cannot control their life.

Their depression may lead them to believe that they are not a socially desirable person to be with and so they try to lose more weight to counter these feelings. Eating disorders can be very complex and, as such, they are very difficult to treat in many cases.

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Why Are Disordered Eating And Dieting So Dangerous

Disordered eating behaviours and in particular dieting are among the most common risk factors for the development of an eating disorder. Eating disorders are severe and life-threatening mental illnesses. An eating disorder is not a lifestyle choice.

Restricting the amount of food you eat can be a very dangerous practice. When the body is starved of food it responds by reducing the rate at which it burns energy and this can result in over eating and binge eating behaviours. Dieting is also associated with other health concerns including depression and anxiety.

Disordered eating can have a negative impact on a persons life and has been linked to a reduced ability to cope with stressful situations. Feelings of guilt, shame and failure are common in people who engage in disordered eating. These feelings can arise as a result of binge eating or breaking a diet. A person with disordered eating behaviours may isolate themselves for fear of socialising in situations where people will be eating. This can contribute to low self-esteem and social withdrawal.

Anorexia And Neurological Problems

People with severe anorexia may suffer nerve damage that affects the brain and other parts of the body. This can lead to nerve affected conditions including the development of seizures, confused thinking and extreme irritability and numbness or odd nerve sensations in the hands or feet .

Brain scans show that parts of the brain can undergo structural changes and abnormal activity during anorexic states. Some of these changes return to normal after weight gain, but there is evidence that some damage may be permanent.

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The Effects Of Eating Disorders & How They Can Lead To Addiction

Anorexia. Bulimia. Binge eating. Not only can these eating disorders harm a persons body, they can also affect a persons mind co-occurring alongside other psychological and dangerous disorders, like substance addiction, and leaving lasting emotional effects.

Body: Physical Effects of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can lead to an array of physical effects, both minor and severe. Dry skin, lost muscle mass, brittle hair and nails, and extreme thinness are some of the more obvious physical symptoms. However, eating disorders can also cause further physical conditions, such as Type II diabetes and pancreatitis. Other long-term, physical effects of eating disorders can include:

  • When we eat fat and cholesterol, our body uses them to create hormones. When we limit fats and calories in our diets, levels of sex hormones can fall. Thyroid hormone levels can also decrease. These can cause a young woman to stop getting her period, but can also lead to severe consequences such as bone loss.
  • Hypothermia According to the National Eating Disorders Association, eating disorders can cause a persons body temperature to drop. Without enough energy to fuel its metabolic fire, the body may drop into a state of hypothermia.
  • Mind: Psychological Effects of Eating Disorders

    Mind & Body Connection

    Anorexia Nervosa

    This article has explored so far how eating disorders can impact the immune system. However, some research is coming out that shows how intertwined the mind and body are. Its clear that while eating disorders are mental illnesses, they have a big impact on the body.

    But what if the body conditions could lead to mental health issues? Recent research shows that inflammation is linked with anorexia. That is, people with inflammation were more likely to develop anorexia .

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    Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

    Treatment for binge eating disorder can be a lengthy process since it involves altering someone’s mindset alongside their eating habits. Since everyone’s experience with an eating disorder is unique, treatment plans are specially tailored to ensure the patient can get the most out of recovery.

    Treatment for binge eating disorder might include:

    • Dietician sessions to curate a stable eating plan and teach someone about nutrition.
    • Psychotherapy to develop healthy attitudes towards food and coping mechanisms.
    • Group or family therapy if the binge eating disorder has affected loved ones, as they attempt to understand the person’s disorder.
    • Specialist treatment in some circumstances for weight management or physical damage caused by binge eating disorder.

    “So many people are struggling on the binge eating spectrum. Diet culture is so pervasive, we must consider how societal messages about thinness and health can contribute to binge eating disorder,” says Kunicki.

    “I binge ate myself for four years and I’ve worked with people who struggled for 10 or more years. But, they broke free. And you can too.”

    If you are struggling with binge eating, you should make a GP appointment. You can also contact Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, 365 days a year on 0808 801 0677 or

    How Do Eating Disorders Affect Your Body

    Eating disorders are a serious mental illness that can have a major impact on physical health, yet they are often misunderstood. These are conditions in which people feel very concerned about their weight and body shape. Most people with eating disorders are women, although there are also many men with eating disorders. Those with eating disorders will often base their self-worth on their weight and body shape and will have an intense fear of gaining weight. This fear of gaining weight is called body dysmorphia. People with this distorted body image cannot see reality and do not see how thin they really are.

    How Are They Diagnosed?

    Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder all have unique signs and symptoms. To diagnose an eating disorder, a physician will take your medical and psychiatric history, conduct a physical exam, and even do other tests. Diagnosing an eating disorder can be tricky because there is rarely a medical test to confirm a diagnosis.

    How Does It Affect Your Body?

    When you have an eating disorder, you may put yourself at dangerous risk for serious health problems. Eating disorders are associated with a number of physical complications, including but not limited to:

    • Pelvic inflammatory disease

    And in some cases, it can even cause death. However, there is a wide range of medical, psychological, and social problems that come with eating disorders.

    Can You Still Recover from An Eating Disorder?

    Treating the Eating Disorder

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    What Are The Treatments For Eating Disorders

    Treatment plans for eating disorders are tailored to individual needs. You will likely have a team of providers helping you, including doctors, nutritionists, nurses, and therapists. The treatments may include:

    • Individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy. Individual therapy may include cognitive behavioral approaches, which help you to identify and change negative and unhelpful thoughts. It also helps you build coping skills and change behavioral patterns.
    • Medical care and monitoring, including care for the complications that eating disorders can cause
    • Nutrition counseling. Doctors, nurses, and counselors will help you eat healthy to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
    • Medicines, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers, may help treat some eating disorders. The medicines can also help with the depression and anxiety symptoms that often go along with eating disorders.

    Some people with serious eating disorders may need to be in a hospital or in a residential treatment program. Residential treatment programs combine housing and treatment services.

    NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

    How Does Anorexia Affect The Body

    How Bulimia Affects the Body Medical Course

    Approximately 24 million people suffer from an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, according to the National Association of Anorexia and Nervosa and Associated Disorders .

    In anorexia, people have a distorted perception of their overall body image: anorexics believe that they are extremely overweight when, in fact, they are severely underweight. The malnutrition that results from anorexia can affect the body through the development of many long-term complications including death.

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    How Is Anorexia Treated

    The biggest challenge in treating anorexia is helping the person recognize and accept that they have an illness. Many people with anorexia deny that they have an eating disorder. They often seek medical treatment only when their condition is serious or life-threatening. This is why its important to diagnose and treat anorexia in its beginning stages.

    The goals of treatment for anorexia include:

    • Stabilizing weight loss.
    • Hospitalization.


    Psychotherapy is a type of individual counseling that focuses on changing the thinking and behavior of a person with an eating disorder. Treatment includes practical techniques for developing healthy attitudes toward food and weight, as well as approaches for changing the way the person responds to difficult situations. There are several types of psychotherapy, including:


    Some healthcare providers may prescribe medication to help manage anxiety and depression that are often associated with anorexia. The antipsychotic medication olanzapine may be helpful for weight gain. Sometimes, providers prescribe medications to help with period regulation.

    Nutrition counseling

    Nutrition counseling is a strategy to help treat anorexia that involves the following:

    • Teaching a healthy approach to food and weight.
    • Helping restore normal eating patterns.
    • Teaching the importance of nutrition and a balanced diet.
    • Restoring a healthy relationship with food and eating.

    Group and/or family therapy


    What Is An Eating Disorder

    Eating disorders are a range of psychological conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits to develop. They might start with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape .

    In severe cases, eating disorders can cause serious health consequences and may even result in death if left untreated. In fact, eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses, second to opioid overdose .

    People with eating disorders can have a variety of symptoms. Common symptoms include severe restriction of food, food binges, and purging behaviors like vomiting or overexercising.

    Although eating disorders can affect people of any gender at any life stage, theyre increasingly common in men and gender nonconforming people. These populations often seek treatment at lower rates or may not report their eating disorder symptoms at all .

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