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What Effects Does and Eating Disorder Have on Your Body?

Eating disorders are a very dangerous mental disorder because they effect not only your mind, but your body as well. Often, having an eating disorder can result in death. Most of the time, however, the disorder starts to take its toll on your body a long time before it reaches the point of completely shutting down.

Although people with an eating disorder don't always realize or notice right away, they are slowly destroying their body. Changes that occur effect them gradually and often the person doesn't even realize it. (Until the symptom has progressed to the point of becoming a big problem and they need medical attention for it) By the time they realize that though, the person will usually deny that anything is wrong, or simply will not care. They will continue to diet, purge, and desire to become thinner through their symptoms.

There are many health effects that result from having an eating disorder and although some are listed below, there are many others as well.


Malnutrition- respiratory infections, kidney failure, blindness, and heart attack.
Dehydration- heart failure, seizures, and brain damage.
Dental Problems, Decalcification of teeth, erosion of tooth enamel, severe decay, Gum Disease - will be caused by stomach acids and enzymes (from vomiting); vitamin D and calcium deficiencies.
Dry Skin and Hair, Brittle Hair and Nails, Hair Loss - cause by Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies, malnutrition and dehydration.
Easily Bruising Skin - Vitamin Deficiencies that decrease the body's ability to heal itself, low blood pressure, low platelets count and/or extreme weight loss will all lead to easily bruised skin that takes a long time to heal.
Lowered body temperature - Temperature Sensitivity - caused by loss of healthy insulating layer of fat and lowered blood pressure.
Low Blood Pressure- caused by lowered body temperature, malnutrition and dehydration. Can cause heart attack.
Tearing of Esophagus - caused by self-induced vomiting.
Gastrointestinal Bleeding - bleeding into the digestive tract.
Acid Reflux Disorder - partially digested items in the stomach, mixed with acid and enzymes, regurgitates back into the esophagus. This can lead to damage to the esophagus, larynx and lungs and increases the chances of developing cancer of the esophagus and voice box. Reflux can sometimes become severe enough that food cannot be kept down at all and medical attention should be sought immediately.
Cancer - of the throat and Larynx due to acid reflux disorder.
Muscle Atrophy - wasting away of muscle and decrease in muscle mass due to the body feeding off of itself because of malnutrition.
Disruptions in Blood Sugar Levels - Low Blood Sugar/Hypoglycemia can indicate problems with the liver or kidneys and can lead to neurological and mental deterioration.
Kidney Infection and Failure - your kidneys "clean" the poisons from your body, regulate acid concentration and maintain water balance. Vitamin Deficiencies, dehydration, infection and low blood pressure increase the risks of and associated with kidney infection thus making permanent kidney damage and kidney failure more likely.
Amenorrhea - Loss of Menstrual Cycle.
Infertility - the inability to have children. Caused by loss of menstrual cycle, and hormonal imbalances. Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies can also make it impossible to succeed with a full-term pregnancy, and can increase the chances significantly of a baby born with birth defects.
Liver Failure - the liver aids in removing waste from cells, and aids in digestion. You cannot live without your Liver. Fasting increases your risks for Liver damage and failure. Loss of menstruation, dehydration, and chronic heart failure can lead to liver damage or failure.
Electrolyte Imbalances - electrolyte are essential to the production of the body's "natural electricity" that ensures healthy teeth, joints and bones, nerve and muscle impulses, kidneys and heart, blood sugar levels and the delivery of oxygen to the cells. Electrolytes balances effect the way your entire body works. Self-induced vomiting causes electrolyte imbalances.
Bad Circulation, Slowed or Irregular Heartbeat, Arrhythmias, Angina, Heart Attack - There are many factors associated with having an Eating Disorder that can lead to heart problems or a heart attack. Sudden cardiac arrest can cause permanent damage to the heart, or instant death . . .
Electrolyte imbalances (especially potassium deficiency), dehydration, malnutrition, low blood pressure, extreme orthostatic hypotension, abnormally slow heart rate, and hormonal imbalances can all cause serious problems with the heart.
Seizures - the increased risk of seizures in Anorexic and Bulimic individuals are caused by dehydration, hyperglycemia or ketoacidosis. It is also possible that lesions on the brain caused by long-term malnutrition play a role.
Depression - mood swings and depression can be cause by physiological factors such as electrolyte imbalances, hormone and vitamin deficiencies, malnutrition and dehydration. Living with the Eating Disorder behaviors themselves will cause depression and can lead to suicide.
Depression can also lead the sufferer back into the cycle of the Eating Disorder (or may have initially been the problem before the onset of the ED).
Death - caused by any of the following or any combination of the following: heart attack or heart failure, lung collapse, internal bleeding, stroke, kidney failure, liver failure, pancreatitis, gastric rupture, perforated ulcer, depression, and suicide.

Other Helpful Links and Resources

http://www.edtreatmentcenters.com/eating-disorders-statistics.html
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/02/22/national-eating-disorders-awareness-week-2010/ http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/programs-events/nedawareness-week.php
http://anorexiatreatment.com/anorexia-symptoms/"
http://helpguide.org/mental/anorexia_signs_symptoms_causes_treatment.htm
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/mor_eat_dis-mortality-eating-disorders
http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/anorexia/statistics.htm

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