Skip to content

Bulimia Nervosa Health Center

Font Size

Understanding Bulimia: Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Bulimia?

According to the National Institutes of Health, you are suffering from the eating disorder bulimia if you experience these binge-purge symptoms at least twice a week for three months:

  • You eat much more food than usual, in just a short time -- especially snacks or other foods high in calories. This episode is called a binge, and while it lasts, you feel like your eating is out of control.
  • After a binge, you use aggressive purging tactics to try to prevent gaining weight from all the food you just ate. You might make yourself vomit or take laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or other medications. You also might use fasting or excessive exercise as part of this harmful strategy.
  • Your thoughts about body weight and shape dominate how you feel overall.

If you have bulimia, you probably share some common feelings that people with anorexia may have. For example, you may fear gaining weight, and always want to lose weight. However, bulimics are not as concerned about their weight as anorexics are.

Understanding Bulimia

Find out more about bulimia:





But unlike anorexia, which is a different eating disorder, you might be able to keep your body weight in the normal range, which helps to keep bingeing and purging a secret. But to you, bingeing can make you feel ashamed, while purging brings a sense of relief.

Other Symptoms Include:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating and purging
  • Weight fluctuation (not necessarily weight loss, as seen in anorexia)
  • Food cravings
  • Overuse of laxatives
  • Depression
  • Tooth enamel erosion, gum infections, cavities, and tooth discoloration (caused by stomach acids from frequent vomiting)
  • Gastrointestinal upset


Call Your Doctor if:

  • You find yourself secretly binge eating, then vomiting or using laxatives
  • You avoid eating in front of other people
  • Your child has an unreasonable fear of being fat and thinks she's fat when she's not
  • Your child avoids eating with others or frequents the bathroom immediately after meals


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on April 11, 2014

Today on WebMD

Bulimia Nervosa Symptoms
Fibro Common Misdiagnoses
Bulimia Nervosa Treatment Overview
Bulimia Nervosa What Happens
teen girl in bad mood
Young woman sitting on floor eating from fridge
Woman consoling depressed friend
mother talking to daughter

WebMD Special Sections