Eating Disorders FAQ

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Q. What is an "Eating Disorder"?

A. The most common element surrounding ALL Eating Disorders is the presence of a low self esteem. Most who are suffering with this illness have a low self esteem and often a tremendous need to control their surroundings and emotions. These eating disorders are usually a unique reaction to a variety of external and internal conflicts, such as stress, anxiety, unhappiness, real physical ailments and feeling like life is out of control. Eating disorders can often be brought on from sickness and disease.


Q. What is anorexia?

A. Anorexia simply means "loss of appetite". It is a disorder normally characterized by a disturbed sense of body image, a morbid fear of obesity, a refusal to maintain a minimally normal body weight, and, in women, amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods). It is a dangerous, life-threatening, eating disorder in which a person intentionally deprives themselves of food and can literally starve to death in an attempt to be what they consider "thin".


Q. Anorexia: What are the signs to look for in someone that I think may be anorexic?

A. This disorder involves extreme weight loss--at least 15 percent below the individuals "ideal" weight-and a refusal to maintain body weight that is even minimally normal for their age and height. Even if they become extremely emaciated, an anorexic person's distorted body image convinces them they are "fat." The self esteem of individuals with this disorder is directly dependent on their body shape and weight. Weight loss for most of them is viewed as an impressive achievement and an indication of extraordinary self-discipline. Anorexia is a negative way to cope with these emotions. Sometimes it is misdiagnosed as only a psychological problem. Many times it can be attributed to real physical ailments.


Q. What is "Bulimia Nervosa" ?

A. Bulimia Nervosa is a disorder characterized by recurrent (at least twice a week) episodes of binge eating during which the patient consumes large amounts of food and feels unable to stop eating, followed by inappropriate efforts to avoid weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, vigorous exercise, or fasting.


Q. What are the symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa?

A. People who have bulimia nervosa routinely "binge", eating large amounts of food in a very short time, and immediately "purge", ridding their bodies of the food they just ate by self-inducing vomiting, taking enemas, or abusing laxatives or other medications. If not treated, this can lead to life-threatening problems. These can include depression, anxiety disorders, heart damage, kidney damage, injury to all parts of the digestive system, and severe dental damage. Those with bulimia nervosa are at risk for dangerous impulsive, self-destructive behaviors, such as sexual promiscuity, kleptomania, self-mutilation, and alcohol and/or drug abuse.


Q. What is "Obesity"? A. Obesity: a simple definition- an excess of body fat that frequently results in a significant impairment of health.

Q. What causes obesity? A. Obesity results when there is an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. In other words, you consume more calories than you expend in your daily activities. There can also be medical causes for obesity, such as glandular irregularities. Many glandular problems are now medically treatable.

Q. What is "Binge-Eating"?

A. Simple definition: recurrent, out-of-control episodes of consuming abnormally large amounts of food.


Q. What are the normal signs of Binge-Eating?

A. People with this disorder eat whether they are hungry or not and continue eating well past being uncomfortably full. If not treated, the consequences of binge-eating can be deadly. This disorder often leads to obesity, which is responsible for as many as 300,000 deaths year, or other serious and often life-threatening eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Those who suffer from binge-eating disorder are also at high risk of substance abuse and serious psychiatric conditions, including depression, panic disorders, anxiety disorders, and other personality disorders.


Q. What is a "Compulsive Eating Disorder"?

A. Persons that feel unable to stop eating, eat very fast, eat when they're not hungry, eat when they're only alone, or eat nearly non-stop throughout the day. Compulsive eaters often over-indulge in sugary foods and use them in an attempt to elevate their mood. When they don't eat the foods they crave, they often experience severe withdrawal symptoms.


Q. What are the contributing factors to most eating disorders?

A. The most common element surrounding ALL Eating Disorders is the presence of a low self esteem. Most who are suffering with this illness have a low self esteem and often a tremendous need to control their surroundings and emotions.

Other factors may include the following:

Use of contraceptives- to control their menstrual period. Example: Models- A normal menstrual cycle includes days which are not conducive to strutting down a walkway in slinky clothes, or posing for a photo shoot. Using contraceptives to avoid menstrual cycless at critical times may play a role in the development of biliary tract disorders, and estrogen levels may reach unnatural levels that cause chronic nausea (which may reduce appetite or cause an urge to vomit after meals).

Celiac disease- a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats.

Chronic Cholecystitis- Inflammation of the gallbladder. This may or may not be caused by gallstones. Acalculous (no gallstones) cholecystitis can give many of the same symptoms as having gallstones.  In the USA, 20% of persons age 65 have gallstones, and each year 500,000 undergo cholecystectomy. Factors that increase the probability of gallstones include just being female, obesity, increased age, North American Indian ethnicity, a Western diet, and a positive family history.

Peptic Ulcer Disease- (PUD) affects the stomach, esophagus or, more usually, the duodenum.

Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease: GERD is a complex disorder with diverse symptoms that are often suggestive of a number of other diseases. Heartburn, chest pain, dysphagia, chronic cough, asthma, chronic bronchitis or laryngitis, early satiety, and/or nausea, bloating,  anorexia, and weight loss are common symptoms in adults.

Parasitic Infections- The most common symptom of parasite infection is diarrhea, with abdominal pain as the second most common symptom. Other symptoms include flatulence, foul-smelling stools, cramps, distention, anorexia, nausea, weight loss, belching, heartburn, headache, constipation, vomiting, fever, chills, bloody stools, mucus in stools, and fatigue.

Crohn's disease- causes inflammation in the small intestine. Crohn's disease usually occurs in the lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum, but it can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus.

Pregnancy- Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy may cause nausea and vomiting, and subsequent initial weight loss.

Hepatitis- Symptoms are similar to flu, but the skin and the eyes may become yellow (icterus) because the liver is not able to filter bilirubin from the blood. Other symptoms can include anorexia, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, fever, body pains, pale or clay colored stool, dark urine, itching.

HIV / Aids- Weight loss is a common complaint of individuals with HIV infection and AIDS.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases- STD's should be ruled out by diagnostic testing, since several of them may present with nausea, vomiting, or anorexia and weight loss.

Cancer- Many cancers can cause anorexia, weight loss, nausea and vomiting; indigestion or heartburn; discomfort or pain in the abdomen, diarrhea or constipation; bloating after meals; weakness and fatigue.

Ulcerative colitis- is a disease that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the top layers of the lining of the large intestine.

Dental Appliances- Braces and retainers are more commonly fitted to girls than boys, due mainly to heightened concerns with appearance among females. If dental appliances cause pain or alter taste sensations, they may reduce the pleasure associated with eating and thus have a negative impact on appetite.

The medical disorders and conditions listed here are just a few of many that must be ruled out before a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa can be made.


Q. Where can I find more information and help on eating disorders?

Q. Click this link for a large list of VERY helpfull Resources! Eating Disorders Links- http://eatingdisorders.resourceaid.com/eatingdisorders/


 

 

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