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Anorexia Nervosa Health Center

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Understanding Anorexia -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Anorexia?

The symptoms of anorexia are:

  • Significant weight loss
  • Fear of becoming fat, even when obviously too thin
  • Distorted body image
  • Excessive dieting and exercising
  • Abnormal food preoccupations, such as counting all calories or obsessively studying cookbooks
  • Constipation
  • Dry, sallow skin
  • Dental decay
  • Fine, downy hair growing on the face and arms
  • Menstrual periods that become irregular or stop completely
  • Mood swings and anxiety
  • Suppression of sexual desire
  • Cold hands and feet at normal room temperature
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Hyperactivity
  • Frequent digestive problems, infections, or other illnesses.
  • Physical problems that include anemia, heart palpitations, bone loss, and tooth decay. 

Life-threatening problems can include suicide, heart attacks, dangerous heart arrhythmias, and kidney failure.

Understanding Anorexia

Find out more about anorexia:

Basics

Symptoms

Diagnosis and Treatment

 

When to Call Your Doctor About Anorexia

If a person with anorexia needs professional help, but is unwilling to seek it, see a doctor to find out the best approach.

Remember that even though anorexia is a dangerous illness, it gives a person a sense of being able to control overwhelming feelings. Someone who has anorexia will struggle against giving up this control, even if this means begging and lying. It is important for family and friends not to give in to this manipulation -- but constant nagging won't help, either. People can't get over anorexia just by changing their minds. They need professional help.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on April 10, 2014

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