Bulimia Nervosa - Exams and Tests
There is no single test that can diagnose bulimia or any other eating disorder. But these illnesses may have a visible effect on your health and eating habits.
If your doctor thinks that you may have an eating disorder, he or she will check you for signs of problems caused by your diet and purging, such as malnutrition or electrolyte imbalances. He or she also may ask questions about your mental well-being. It is common for another mental health problem (such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder) to play a part in an eating disorder.
Common exams and tests for a possible eating disorder include:
- Questions about your medical history, including your physical and emotional health, both present and past.
- A physical exam to check your heart, lungs, blood pressure, weight, mouth, skin, and hair for diet problems.
- Screening questions about your eating habits and how you feel about your health.
- A mental health assessment to check for depression or anxiety.
Blood tests to check for signs of malnutrition, such as low potassium levels or other chemical imbalances.
X-rays, which can show whether your bones have been weakened (osteopenia) by malnutrition.
A person can have bulimia and be underweight, average weight, or overweight. Most people with bulimia are in their normal weight range. Many binge in secret and deny that they may have a problem. These factors can make bulimia hard to diagnose.
People with bulimia often seek medical care for related health concerns, such as fatigue or stomach problems caused by repeated vomiting.
Early, accurate diagnosis and treatment of bulimia can decrease the chances of long-term health problems and even death in severe cases. Unfortunately, there is no routine screening for eating disorders. It is common for a person with bulimia to try to hide symptoms, which can make it hard to detect. Most often a loved one thinks that there is a problem and seeks help for bulimia. It is common for a person to have bulimia for a long time and to develop serious health problems before anyone realizes that the person has the disorder.