effects of bulimia

Bulimia Nervosa: Symptoms, Physical Effects, Mental Effects, Emotional Affects

Consuming a large food quantity after days of suppressing your appetite is never a good solution to weight loss. However, this is the reality of people suffering from a psychological eating disorder called bulimia nervosa. 

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 25th Feb 2022.

Eye-Opening Effects Of Bulimia To Be Aware Of

The cycle of binge-eating is characterised as a reflection of your mental well-being. Large consumption of food can show that you are internally stressed out with something. People with bulimia tend to manipulate their minds wanting for smaller bodies eagerly.

What Are the Effects of Bulimia?

Bulimia is a severe disease, like other eating disorders. It has the potential to harm your body and possibly kill you permanently.

Bulimics often binge eat huge quantities of food and then purge to get rid of the calories. Vomiting, strenuous exercise, or the use of laxatives or diuretics are common symptoms. This pattern of conduct may lead to issues in any area of your body.

Bulimia impacts the brain and is often related to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

However, assistance is available. Stopping the cycle of bingeing and purging may be done in a variety of ways. Just make sure you do them with the aid of a doctor to ensure a safe recovery.

The Physical Effects of Bulimia

Your body takes a toll as a result of the binge-purge cycle. It may harm your heart, digestive system, and teeth and gums, among other things. It may also lead to other issues, such as:

  • Dehydration. When you vomit up or take too many diuretics, your body loses fluids.
  • Electrolyte imbalances. Electrolytes are lost when you get severely dehydrated. Sodium and potassium are examples of these compounds. They assist your body in maintaining the proper fluid balance in your blood vessels and organs. Heart issues and even death may result from an electrolyte imbalance.
  • Heart problems. Palpitations (rapid, fluttering, or pounding heart) and arrhythmia (abnormal cardiac rhythm) are examples of these symptoms.
  • Low blood pressure. Your blood pressure may drop to the point where you're in danger of passing out.
  • Trouble regulating body temperature. Your body temperature may decrease if you do not eat enough to fuel your body. You may be chilly all of the time.
  • Damage to your oesophagus. The lining of your oesophagus, the tube that attaches your neck to your stomach, maybe torn by forceful vomiting. It may cause severe and life-threatening bleeding if it rips. Mallory-Weiss syndrome is the name for this condition. This condition is characterised by bright crimson blood in your vomit.
  • Burst oesophagus. Your oesophagus may potentially rupture if you have a lot of forceful vomiting. This is referred to as the Boerhaave syndrome. It's a medical emergency that necessitates urgent surgery.
  • Acid reflux. Stomach acid may flow back up through the lower portion of your oesophagus if it is injured. This causes heartburn and indigestion.
  • Other digestive problems. Bulimia may permanently harm your stomach and intestines, resulting in constipation, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome, among other issues.
  • Hormonal problems. When bulimia, you may have reproductive difficulties such as irregular periods, missing periods, and fertility concerns.
  • Diabetes connection. Diabulimia is a term used to describe someone with type 1 diabetes plus an eating problem. People with diabetes who require insulin but take less than they need to reduce weight are referred to as “insulin slackers." This may result in severe health issues such as a stroke, coma, or death.
  • Tooth decay. Vomit contains stomach acid, damaging dental enamel and making your teeth sensitive to heat and cold.
  • Mouth problems. Stomach acid may also cause tooth discolouration and gum disease. Throwing up due to purging causes painful ulcers in the corners of your mouth and throat discomfort. Bulimia may also cause enlargement of the salivary glands in your mouth.
  • Ipecac-induced myopathy, or muscle weakness. While some individuals use their fingers to induce vomiting, others may employ ipecac syrup, which was formerly used to induce vomiting in poisoned patients. Over time, consuming too much ipecac may result in irreversible heart damage and even death.
  • “Bulimia face." Excess vomiting may cause swollen salivary glands, which can make your face and neck puffy.
  • Hoarse voice. Stomach acid may irritate your vocal cords and damage your voice if you vomit often.
  • Russell’s sign. The backs of your finger joints may get discoloured or calloused if you use your fingertips to make yourself vomit regularly. Russell's sign is the name for this skin condition.
  • Hair, skin, and nail problems. Your hair, nails, and skin may get dry if you don't receive enough nutrition. Hair and nails may fall out more readily, and your hair may thin. Small broken veins on your face, red patches around your lips, or a purple rash may occur due to vomiting.
  • Pancreatitis. This is a pancreatic inflammation that causes discomfort, nausea, and vomiting. It may be caused by malnutrition or purging.
  • Difficulties during pregnancy. Bulimia increases the chances of a miscarriage or a C-section. It also increases the chances of your kid being delivered early, undersized, or with a congenital disability. It also raises your chances of developing depression once the kid is born.

The Mental and Emotional Effects of Bulimia

Bulimia is related to mental health issues in addition to the physical harm it causes. You may have to cope with the following issues:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-confidence
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Self-harm (such as cutting)
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviours
  • Shame, guilt, or humiliation
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Suicidal ideation or behaviour

If you're thinking about hurting yourself or killing yourself, contact your doctor or 911 right away. You may also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, which is a toll-free number. They've come to assist you.

Bulimia recovery may take an extended period. But don't let it deter you from seeking assistance. If you're willing to seek treatment, you, your family, and your doctor may explore a variety of alternatives to come up with a plan that works for you. Set objectives for yourself and adhere to your strategy, and you'll be well on your way to conquering your eating problem.


  1. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa/bulimia-effects-body
  2. Mayo Clinic: “Bulimia Nervosa.”
  3. UptoDate: “Bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder in adults: Medical complications and their management.”
  4. University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center: “Electrolyte Imbalance.”
  5. National Eating Disorder Association: “Bulimia Nervosa,” “Diabulimia,” “Physical Signs and Symptoms of an Eating Disorder," “Health Consequences."
  6. American Heart Association: “Arrhythmia.”
  7. Cedars-Sinai: “Mallory-Weiss Syndrome.”
  8. Mehler, P. Journal of Eating Disorders, 2015.
  9. Bulimia Nervosa Resource Guide: “What are the signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa?”
  10. Science of Eating Disorders: “Medical Complications of Purging in Bulimia Nervosa.”
  11. Eating Disorders Victoria: “Bulimia Nervosa.”
  12. Bodell, LP. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2013.
  13. American Academy of Pediatrics: “Eating Disorders: Bulimia."
  14. The International Journal of Eating Disorders: “The Medical Complications Associated with Purging," “Co‐morbidity of eating disorders and substance abuse review of the literature."
  15. Office on Women's Health: “Bulimia nervosa."
  16. International OCD Foundation: “The Relationship Between Eating Disorders and OCD Part of the Spectrum."
  17. National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Eating Disorders."
  18. Boston Children's Hospital: “Bulimia Nervosa Symptoms & Causes."

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