- Repeatedly eating large amounts of food in a
short period of time (less than 2 hours).
- Frequently getting rid
of the calories you've eaten (purging) by making yourself vomit, fasting,
exercising too much, or misusing
ipecac syrup, or
enemas. Misuse of these medicines can lead to serious
health problems and even death.
- Feeling a loss of control over how
much you eat.
- Having binge-purge cycles.
ashamed of overeating and very fearful of gaining weight.
your self-esteem and value upon your body shape and weight.
Any of the above symptoms can be a sign of bulimia or
eating disorder that needs treatment. If you or
someone you know has any of these symptoms, talk to a doctor,
friend, or family member about your concerns right away.
and other eating disorders can be hard to diagnose, because people often
keep unhealthy thoughts and behaviors secret and may deny that they have a
problem. Often a person won't get evaluation and treatment until someone else
notices the signs of bulimia and encourages the person to seek the help that he
or she needs.
Other signs that a person may have bulimia
Common signs that a person may have bulimia are
when the person:
- Is very secretive about eating and does not eat
around other people.
- Sneaks food or hides food in the house. You
may notice that large amounts of food are missing.
- Has frequent
weight changes. For example, the person may gain and lose large amounts of
weight in short periods of time.
- Has irregular
- Seems preoccupied with
- Often talks about dieting, weight, and body
- Seems to be overusing laxatives and
- Has low levels of potassium or
blood electrolyte imbalances.
- Looks sick
or has symptoms such as:
- Tooth decay or
- Sore gums or mouth
- Dry skin.
- Loose skin.
- Thin or dull
- Bloating or
- Lack of energy.
- Teeth marks on the backs of
the hands or calluses on the knuckles from self-induced vomiting.
anxious, or guilty.
- Shoplifts food, laxatives, or
- Drinks large amounts of alcohol
or uses illegal drugs and may have a
substance abuse problem.
Conditions that commonly occur with bulimia, such as
substance abuse, or
anxiety disorders, can make treatment of bulimia harder. Recovery from bulimia can take a long time. And
relapse is common. If the person feels extremely
discouraged, be sure to tell the doctor immediately so that the person can get
In some cases, people who have an eating disorder
If you or someone you know shows warning signs of suicide,
seek help immediately.
Bulimia is different from
anorexia. People with anorexia weigh 85% or less of
their normal body weight. But most people with bulimia are in their normal
weight range. Some people who have anorexia make themselves vomit, but this is
eating disorder. For more information, see the topic