What Are the Warning Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa?


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Eating disorders can be difficult to discuss, but they affect millions of Americans every day. Like all eating disorders, bulimia nervosa is a condition that can have long-term and potentially fatal impacts on individuals who don’t receive proper treatment. While it may be more challenging to identify than other eating disorders, people suffering from bulimia nervosa exhibit a few common warning signs and symptoms that can help you narrow down whether or not they need help.

What Is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa (also known simply as bulimia) is a mental illness that presents itself as an eating disorder. Individuals suffering from bulimia are known to engage in dramatic and excessive amounts of binging and purging, often in a short period. Instead of purging, some may compensate for their binging episode by fasting or exercising excessively. These binge episodes and purging behaviors are compulsive, and individuals find them extremely difficult to control. As such, it’s important to get the right help before one of these reactions leads to a more serious event.

Risk Factors for Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, nationality, or ethnicity, but a few segments of the population are at an increased risk of bulimia. Women are more likely to develop bulimia, and the most common symptoms occur in adolescence and young adulthood. Some other risk factors include:


  • Close relatives who have either suffered from or are currently battling bulimia nervosa.
  • People on extreme diet plans.
  • History of anxiety disorders.
  • Social weight stigmas.
  • Teasing or bullying in the past.
  • Minuscule social circles or networks

The consequences of bulimia are dangerous and often affect you physically, mentally, and emotionally. It can be challenging to identify someone suffering from bulimia, but there are still a few major signs and symptoms to note:

Consuming Large Quantities of Food

Individuals suffering from bulimia often consume large quantities of food over a short period, especially compared to what they should eat for their body weight. They cannot control their desires and will exhibit weight behaviors while eating and after eating, leading to compensatory behaviors to overcome the guilt.

Purging and Hiding the Purging

Purging is usually the result of self-induced vomiting after consuming those large meals. After the purge cycle, they often engage in behaviors to cover up the purging. Sometimes drugs are used to induce vomiting, upon which wrappers and other bottles may be hidden secretly in garbage cans or even flushed down toilets. There may also be evidence of breath mints, mouthwash, and gum in the vicinity to cover up the foul smell in their mouths.


Due to the self-induced vomiting, people suffering from bulimia will be at an increased risk of dehydration and may seem weak and tired throughout the day. If you notice someone lacking in energy throughout the day with no discernible cause, it might be an important warning sign or symptom of bulimia nervosa.

Food Rituals

Like awkward behaviors in toxic relationships, people suffering from eating disorders like bulimia often have a difficult relationship with food. This may lead to food rituals such as sorting their food or making sure foods are on separate plates. They may also engage in extreme diets that eliminate specific food groups for extended periods.

Dental Problems

Because of the constant purging, dental problems are a big warning sign and symptom of bulimia nervosa. The acid levels from the vomit build up on the teeth and gums, causing erosion and bacterial infections that eventually degrade oral health.

Treat Bulimia Nervosa With Professional Help

While they may seem normal to someone with bulimia, none of these warning signs should be taken lightly. These health risks can compromise individuals’ bodies and ability to think and function rationally. With help from a bulimia nervosa treatment center, you can get individuals the support they need to overcome their disorder without shame or guilt. If you or someone you know is suffering from bulimia nervosa, call Selah House at 765.819.2524 or fill out our contact form today.

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