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Eating disorders are serious behavior problems. They can include severe overeating or not consuming enough food to stay healthy. They also involve extreme concern about your shape or weight.

Types of eating disorders include

  • Anorexia nervosa, in which you become too thin, but you don't eat enough because you think you are fat
  • Bulimia nervosa, which involves periods of overeating followed by purging, sometimes through self-induced vomiting or using laxatives
  • Binge-eating, which is out-of-control eating

Women are more likely than men to have eating disorders. They usually start in the teenage years and often occur along with depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.

Eating disorders can lead to heart and kidney problems and even death. Getting help early is important. Treatment involves monitoring, talk therapy, nutritional counseling, and sometimes medicines.

NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

Symptoms of Eating Disorders

The following features are indicative of Eating Disorders:
  • low body weight
  • severe food restriction
  • intense fear of gaining weight
  • distorted body image and self-esteem
  • lack of menstruation among girls and women
  • chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
  • worn tooth enamel
  • acid reflux disorder
  • intestinal distress
  • irritation from laxative abuse
  • electrolyte imbalance
It is possible that Eating Disorders shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Eating Disorders

The following are the most common causes of Eating Disorders:
  • alterations of ANP homeostasis in women
  • mutation in leptin, pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) genes
  • social factors
  • depression
  • alcoholism
  • anxiety disorders
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Risk Factors for Eating Disorders

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Eating Disorders:
  • being female
  • during the teens and early 20s
  • family history
  • depression
  • anxiety disorder
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • people on dieting

Prevention of Eating Disorders

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Eating Disorders. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • encourage healthy eating habits
  • cultivate and reinforce a healthy body image in children
  • talk to child about the risks of unhealthy eating choices

Occurrence of Eating Disorders

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Eating Disorders cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very rare between 1K - 10K cases

Common Age Group

Eating Disorders most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 10-20 years

Common Gender

Eating Disorders can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Eating Disorders

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Eating Disorders:
  • Eating attitudes test: To measure the symptoms and concerns characteristic of eating
  • SCOFF questionnaire: To assess the presence of disorder
  • Body attitudes test: To measure an individual's attitude towards one's own body
  • Body attitudes questionnaire: A 44 item self-report questionnaire to measures a woman's attitude towards their own body
  • Eating disorder inventory: To assess the presence of eating disorders

Doctor for Diagnosis of Eating Disorders

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Eating Disorders:
  • Psychotherapist
  • Nutritional counsellor
  • Psychiatrist

Complications of Eating Disorders if untreated

Yes, Eating Disorders causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Eating Disorders is left untreated:
  • can be fatal
  • significant medical problems
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • suicidal thoughts
  • problems with growth and development
  • social and relationship problems
  • substance use disorders

Medicines for Eating Disorders

Below is the list of medicines used for Eating Disorders:

Self-care for Eating Disorders

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Eating Disorders:
  • Stick to your treatment plan: Helps in maintaining overall health
  • Don't isolate yourself: Help you feel better during and after treatment and help maintain your overall health
  • Resist urges to weigh yourself: Helps maintaining healthy habits

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Eating Disorders

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Eating Disorders:
  • Acupuncture: Helps reducing anxiety
  • Get massage therapy: Helps relaxing the body
  • Do yoga: Helps maintaining overall health
  • Do meditation: Helps in relieving stress

Patient Support for Treatment of Eating Disorders

The following actions may help Eating Disorders patients:
  • Friends and family support: Helps coping with emotional feelings

Is Eating Disorders Infectious?

Yes, Eating Disorders is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • hand contact

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Eating Disorders.

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