Friday, March 19, 2010

Medical Complications

Any specific eating disorder can result in any number or combination of medical complications, or even death. The human body was not designed to be starved, or 'abused' by the types of behaviors that present with an eating disorder. Everyone is affected differently and to different degrees, and it is impossible to predict what type of damage or harm may ensue, but there is no doubt that the body suffers.I would like to point out just a very few medical complications that a person may experience if they have either anorexia or bulimia.Within the overall eating disorder population, there is a 5.6 times risk of death over the general population, one-third of those deaths resulting from cardiac complications.The increased risk for edema (fluid retention) is caused by the decreased fulid intake with anorexia, and/or the depletion of fluids in one who is bingeing/purging, or using other compensatory behaviors, such as laxatives, diuretics, etc. The kidneys and the adrenal glands work together to help rid the body of waste, and when there is significant fluid volume depletion, this combination becomes imbalanced at the least, and may shut down in some more serious instances. For lack of better description, this system 'forgets' temporarily how to function at it's optimum level.Therefore, any slight change in fluid or food intake, can confuse what is already out of balance, and will ilkely result in the kidneys attempting to 'hold onto' every molecule of water and salt that is available...hence, resulting in fluid retention as a survival tactic. It's important to remember that in most cases, this will normalize again, but for some who have restricted their fluids/food intake, or who have engaged in long-term fluid depletion by some means, permanent kidney damage may result. The importance of getting help cannot be emphasized enough. It's also important that the process of restoring 'normal' eating be closely monitored for those who may be experiencing these things, so that the body is not overwhelmed, and so that certain hormone/electrolyte levels can be monitored for safety reasons.Another possible complication which may result from long term laxative abuse is called cathartic colon syndrome, which in layman's terms, means that the digestive process can be retarded and slowed significantly, and a type of paralysis called gastroparesis can result which is sometimes irreversible. This is due to the destruction of nerve cells in the stomach and colon, and may result in bloating, increased gas and pain after eating. This is not unlike the swollen bellies that you may see in pictures of children who are literally starving in impoverished countries.This swelling is similar to how a person's weight may settle temporarily around their middle when they are in the process of restoring their weight. THIS is temporary if monitored carefully. This is related to cortisol levels, which likely will normalize over a period time if the person does not once again slip into the symptoms of the eating disorder.This is a very simplified picture of an amazingly complex problem.Most of all, I'd like to emphasize that during recovery, most importantly, one must be monitored by a professional, for medical and psychological issues, AND, that it takes time for the body to restore normal function after being 'turned off' for sometimes a very long time.
Without apology...♥


  1. i have no hope now with my relaspe feel lost very lonely so much ! never thought a relaspe would happen for me ? after years of recovery ! maybe my traumas recently in my life ? great post i really appreciate it xo & yes from all of it i now do have a cardiac problem & my teeth too a problem so yes it as you say really affects your pyhsical health so very much ! god bless

  2. You aren't alone in the teeth department sunset. I keep crossing my fingers that when I get the money together to pay for some treatment, it won't be as bad as my worst fears seem to think.