Physical & Medical

Bulimia Physical/Medical Complications

  Self-induced vomiting can lead to swelling of salivary glands, electrolyte and mineral disturbances, and enamel erosion in teeth. Laxative abuse can lead to long lasting disruptions of normal bowel functioning. Complications such as tearing the esophagus, rupturing the stomach, and developing life-threatening irregularities of the heart rhythm may also result.

Health Consequences of Bulimia Nervosa: Binge/Purge

   The recurrent binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia can affect the entire digestive system and can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions.
Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death. Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium, sodium and chloride from the body as a result of purging behaviors.
Potential for gastric rupture during periods of bingeing.
Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during frequent vomiting.
Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse.
Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis.


Fatigue and lack of energy
Amenorrhea(loss of menstruation) and irregular menstruation
Constipation and diarrhea
Shortness of breath
Irregular heartbeats
Tears of esophagus
Barrett's Esophagus - associated with Cancer of the esophagus and caused by Esophageal Reflux, this is a change in the cells within the esophagus.
Hair loss
Stomach pain and bloating
Erosion of teeth enamel
Chronic sore throat
Kidney and liver damage
Parotid gland enlargement
Electrolyte imbalances
Cathartic colon (caused from laxative abuse)
Edema (swelling of hands and feet)
Low blood pressure
Chest pains
Development of peptic ulcers and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
Gastric dilation and rupture
Abrasions on back of hands and knuckles
Cardiac arrest and death
Low Blood Sugar- can indicate problems with the liver or kidneys and can lead to neurological and mental deterioration.
Elevated Blood Sugar- can lead to diabetes, liver and kidney shut down, circulatory and immune system problems.
Callused fingers - caused by repeated using the fingers to induce vomiting.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome -crippling fatigue related to a weakened immune system.
Cramps, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, incontinence- increased or decreased bowel activity.
Dehydration - caused by lack of intake of fluids in the body.
Dental Problems- decalcification of teeth, erosion of tooth enamel, and severe decay.
Gum Disease -caused by stomach acids and enzymes from vomiting; lack of vitamin D and calcium, and hormonal imbalance.
Depression - mood swings and depression caused by physiological factors such as electrolyte imbalances, hormone and vitamin deficiencies, malnutrition and dehydration. Living with the Eating Disorder behaviors can cause depression. Depression can also lead the victim back into the cycle of the Eating Disorder (or may have initially been the problem before the onset of the ED). Stress within family, job and relationships can all be causes. There are also a percentage of people born with a pre-disposition to depression, based on family history.