What are eating disorders?
An eating disorder is an illness that causes serious disturbances to your everyday diet, such as eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating. A person with an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spiralled out of control.
Eating disorders frequently appear during the 10 years or young adulthood but may also develop during childhood or later in life.
- Anorexia nervosa Anorexia can cause menstruation to stop, and often leads to bone loss, loss of skin integrity.
- Bulimia nervosa characterized by recurrent binge eating followed by compensatory behaviours such as purging.
- Binge eating disorder (BED) or compulsive overeating, characterized by binge eating, without compensatory behaviour.
- Purging disorder, characterized by recurrent purging to control weight or shape in the absence of binge eating episodes.
- Rumination, characterized by involving the repeated painless regurgitation of food following a meal which is then either re-chewed and re-swallowed or discarded.
- Diabulimia, characterized by the deliberate manipulation of insulin levels by diabetics in an effort to control their weight.
- Food maintenance, characterized by a set of aberrant eating behaviours of children in foster care.
Eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) can refer to a number of disorders. It can refer to a female individual who suffers from anorexia but still has her period, someone who may be at a “healthy weight”, but who has anorexic thought patterns and behaviors, it can mean the sufferer equally participates in some anorexic as well as bulimic behaviors (sometimes referred to as purge-type anorexia), or to any combination of eating disorder behaviors which do not directly put them in a separate category.
Pica, characterized by a compulsive craving for eating, chewing or licking non-food items or foods containing no nutrition. These can include such things as chalk, paper, plaster, paint chips, baking soda, starch, glue, rust, ice, coffee grounds, and cigarette ashes. These individuals cannot distinguish a difference between food and non-food items.
Night eating syndrome, characterized by morning anorexia, evening polyphagia (abnormally increased appetite for consumption of food (frequently associated with insomnia, and injury to the hypothalamus).
Types of eating disorders mainly two:
- Anorexia nervosa : Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that makes people lose more weight than is considered healthy for their age and height.
The exact causes of anorexia nervosa are unknown. Many factors probably are involved. Genes and hormones may play a role. Social attitudes promoting very thin body types may also be involved.
Family conflicts are no longer thought to contribute to this or other eating disorders.
Risk factors for anorexia include:
- Trying to be perfect or overly focused on rules
- Being more worried about, or paying more attention to, weight and shape
- Having eating problems during infancy or early childhood
- Certain social or cultural ideas about health and beauty
- Having a negative self-image
- Having an anxiety disorder as a child
Symptoms of Anorexia nervosa are:
- Extreme thinness (emaciation)
- A relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight
- Intense fear of gaining weight
- Distorted body image
- Lack of menstruation among girls and women
- Extremely restricted eating.
Other symptoms may develop over time, including:-
Thinning of the bones
- Brittle hair and nails
- Dry and yellowish skin
- Growth of fine hair all over the body (lanugo)
- Mild anemia and muscle wasting and weakness
- Severe constipation
- Low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
- Damage to the structure and function of the heart
- Brain damage
- Lethargy, sluggishness, or feeling tired all the time
- Bulimia nervosa
Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over these episodes
Bulimia is an illness in which a person has regular episodes of overeating and feels a loss of control.
Many more women than men have bulimia. The disorder is most common in adolescent girls and young women. The affected person is usually aware that her eating pattern is abnormal and may feel fear or guilt with the binge-purge episodes.
The exact cause of bulimia is unknown. Genetic, psychological, trauma, family, society, or cultural factors may play a role. Bulimia is likely due to more than one factor
Other symptoms include:-
- Chronically inflamed and sore throat
- Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
- Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
- Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
- Severe dehydration from purging of fluids
- Electrolyte imbalance which can lead to heart attack.
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