Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is a psychological eating disorder characterized by binge eating followed by "purging". Purging can consist of vomiting, fasting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, enemas, or compulsive exercising. Binging is when a person eats a very large amount of food in a short period of time in quantities that exceed what a normal person would eat in the same situation. Binging is not a response to intense hunger, it is more often in response to depression, stress, or self esteem issues. People with bulimia can look very normal and diagnosing this condition on appearance only would be near impossible. Individuals with this disorder can consume huge quantities of food and as much as 20,000 calories in a single binge. Foods that are consumed are what many refer to as 'comfort foods'.


  • Eating uncontrollably
  • Purging
  • Strict dieting
  • Fasting
  • Vomiting / vomiting blood
  • Abuse of laxatives / diuretics
  • Using bathrooms frequently following meals
  • Depression, mood swings, or feeling out of control
  • Swollen glands
  • Weakness / exhaustion
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Gastro-intestinal problems (heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion)
  • Dental Problems
  • Irregular periods

If you suspect a family member or someone you know of having bulimia you should encourage them to see an eating disorder specialist. As with most eating disorders, you will probably encounter resistance, anger, and denial.

Medical Risks:

  • Erosion of tooth enamel
  • Dental cavities
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Ruptures of the stomach and esophagus
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart attack
  • Dehydration

External Resources

US Department of Health & Human Services Overview of Bulimia Nervosa
National Alliance on Mental Illness Overview of Bulimia Nervosa
Wikipedia documentation on Bulimia
National Eating Disorders Association Overview of Bulimia Nervosa
eMedicine Health Overview of Bulimia Nervosa
Medicine Net Overview of Bulimia Nervosa
Mayo Clinic Overview of Bulimia Nervosa
WebMD Overview of Bulimia Nervosa
Medline Plus Overview of Bulimia Nervosa