Anorexia nervosa, which is commonly shortened to simply anorexia, is anything but simple. The eating disorder is marked by the restriction of food and the refusal to maintain a minimal normal, healthy body weight. But what may seem like nothing more than watching calories and a strict diet may escalate into more.

When a person begins to lose weight by lowering their food intake or restricting their diet to only certain types of foods, they are putting themselves at risk for anorexia. Once anorexia develops, individuals can limit or even completely exclude types of foods with high fat or caloric content and some even reach a point where they restrict their food intake to the so that they only eat a very specific variety of foods on a daily basis.

Decreased food intake is only one method that sufferers of anorexia use to lose weight. Some individuals with anorexia will also try to lose weight by different means, such as:

  • Induced Vomiting
  • Laxative abuse
  • Diuretic (including caffeine or alcohol) abuse
  • Insulin abuse
  • Excessive exercise

When someone suffers from anorexia nervosa, they may imagine that they are gaining weight even if they aren’t. Their perceived weight gain is then coupled with an overwhelming, intense fear of becoming overweight or heavy. Though anorexia may cause some weight to be lost, it does not take away the individual’s fear of weight gain. In fact, some sufferers of anorexia nervosa even report an increase in anxiety over their weight. Many individuals with anorexia have a persistent feeling of being overweight, despite their actual appearance and the opinions of others.

Anorexia nervosa is a devastating disorder that can cause serious medical issues such as:

  • Loss of menstruation
  • Emaciation
  • Bradycardia
  • Hypotension
  • Hypothermia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Impaired renal functioning
  • Gastrointestinal problems

If any of the following symptoms apply to you or a loved one, contact us. You or your loved one may be at risk of having anorexia nervosa:

  • Weight loss with no known medical illness
  • Ritualistic eating habits
  • Excessive exercise
  • Eating low to no-fat and low-calorie foods
  • Sufferer says he or she is fat, even when this is obviously untrue
  • Hair loss
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Fainting
  • Exhaustion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry, brittle skin
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Withdrawal
  • Tooth and gum decay
  • Dressing in baggy clothes to hide the body
  • Hyper-competitiveness

Anorexia Treatment Options are Available

Left untreated, anorexia can be fatal, but it doesn’t have to reach that point. If you or someone you know has anorexia, contact Brookhaven Hospital today at 888-298-4673.

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