Bulimia

Alternative Names

Bulimia nervosa; Binge-purge behavior; Eating disorder – bulimia

Definition of Bulimia

Bulimia is an illness in which a person binges on food or has regular episodes of significant overeating and feels a loss of control. The affected person then uses various methods — such as vomiting or laxative abuse — to prevent weight gain.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Many more women than men have bulimia, and 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 experience fear or guilt with the binge-purge episodes.

Symptoms

In bulimia, eating binges may occur as often as several times a day for many months.

Signs and tests

A dental exam may show or gum infections (such as ). The enamel of the teeth may be eroded or pitted because of excessive exposure to the acid in vomit.

Treatment

People with bulimia rarely need to be hospitalized, except under the following circumstances:

Expectations (prognosis)

Bulimia is a chronic illness and many people continue to have some symptoms despite treatment. People with fewer medical complications of bulimia, and who are willing and able to engage in therapy, tend to have a better chance of recovery.

Review

Paul Ballas, DO, Department of Psychiatry, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/1/2010

Upper gastrointestinal system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.