Bulimia nervosa, what are these, symptoms, and how to treat.
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Bulimia (syn. – kinorexia, wolf hunger) is a eating disorder that is characterized by uncontrolled attacks of a sharp increase in appetite, accompanied by a strong feeling of hunger, weakness, pain in the upper abdomen.
The disease can develop in healthy people, but is more common as a complication in people suffering from diseases of the central nervous system, endocrine system, as well as metabolic disorders.
In people with bulimia, seizures can occur as a reaction to stressful situations and negative experiences (failure in anything, anger, sadness, a feeling of loneliness). Also, an attack can occur when a person feels fear, insecurity or hears criticism addressed to him.
Bulimia is the opposite of anorexia. People suffering from bulimia are much more difficult to identify than patients with anorexia or regular overeating, because they usually maintain normal weight and health. In the intervals between attacks, such people may not differ from healthy ones in their behavior.
However, more often for patients with bulimia, almost complete uncontrollability is characteristic, and, even between breaks, a tendency to excessive consumption may occur with respect to alcohol or medications.
Despite the fact that the disease has been known to mankind for quite some time, the causes of its autonomous occurrence are still not well understood. Therefore, modern medicine adheres to the following, most likely causes of the development of the disease, namely:
- severe stress in which a person is for a long time, and is not able to eliminate the cause that caused him,
- low self-esteem inherent in upbringing or in the process of growing up, which provokes stress, a state of constant self-doubt,
- bulimia often affects people who, in childhood, were deprived of food as a punishment for misconduct, or vice versa, they were encouraged for success with additional dishes,
- violation of metabolic processes in the brain due to the prolonged action of the toxin or chronic poisoning with chemicals,
- burdened by heredity (bulimia was diagnosed in one of the close relatives).
In addition to the main symptom of the disease – an attack of severe hunger, bulimia is characterized by other, indirect manifestations:
- caries, thinning or destruction of tooth enamel, as a result of frequent vomiting;
- dehydration is also the result of repeated vomiting or uncontrolled intake of a laxative;
- scratches on the fingers that appear due to attempts to provoke a gag reflex. The possibility of this symptom is due to the panic state of the patient immediately after the attack in conjunction with impaired electrolyte balance and convulsions; in other words, during vomiting, the patient may accidentally bite himself, or damage the skin of his hands. Such damage under the repeated action of gastric acid does not heal for a long time – visible defects occur. Symptom appears in advanced cases of the disease. Extremely rare, but extremely revealing – a healthy person, for sure, even with a great desire, will not be able to cause such damage.
- inflammatory diseases of the esophagus, pharynx (laryngitis, pharyngitis, possible aspiration pneumonia due to vomiting in the trachea) and the occurrence of a feeling of heartburn;
- muscle cramps or twitches caused by electrolyte imbalance
- symptoms of impaired liver and / or kidney function (morning swelling of the extremities, increased blood pressure, development of cholecystitis);
- in rare cases, internal bleeding (when ingested with food foreign bodies that can injure the gastrointestinal tract)
- violation of the menstrual cycle in women;
It is also characteristic that after the end of the attack, a person, in most cases, feels shame in relation to his behavior and seeks to get rid of the food eaten, artificially inducing vomiting, uses diuretics or laxatives, exposes himself to physical exertion or starvation.
One of the difficulties associated with the diagnosis of the disease is the difficulty in identifying the patient, due to the preservation of normal behavior in between attacks.
Over time, the disease begins to become more severe, so if you find yourself or others with several symptoms of bulimia, you should contact a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.
The doctor will be able to diagnose this disease with the data from a patient survey, taking an anamnesis, examining a patient’s medical records, as well as conducting a number of psychological tests, for example, the “Food Attitude Test”.
After that, the doctor must decide how much the patient needs hospitalization. Most often, treatment for bulimia takes place without hospitalization, on an outpatient basis.
The same symptoms can be signs of different diseases, and the disease can not proceed according to the textbook. Do not try to be treated yourself – consult a doctor.
Treatment involves two components – psychotherapy and medical correction of behavior. Modern studies show that the best result in patients with bulimia is achieved by practicing group psychotherapy, as patients often feel shame about their painful behavior, and during the sessions they can make sure that they are not alone in their problem.
Another method of psychological correction of bulimia is hypnotherapy, or training the patient to self-hypnosis in order to gain the ability to control their behavior.
If the patient has a family, it is important to consult with its members about the existing subtleties in dealing with the patient, because the result and duration of treatment largely depends on the patient’s environment.
In addition, there is a drug regimen for the treatment of bulimia. Antidepressants are used for correction, most often fluoxetine, but other drugs of this group can also be used.
Admission of antidepressants allows you to normalize the patient’s emotional background, significantly reduces the frequency and strength of seizures, which in combination with psychotherapy gives excellent results.
With proper complex treatment and compliance with all the recommendations of the doctor, most often, complete recovery is achieved.
But, even after it, it is necessary to control the condition of the person, since under unfavorable conditions of life or work, the disease can recur.