Detecting Common Eating Disorders

Eating disorders causes are usually underlying psychological or mental health issues and they mostly revolve around fixation with body image, weight or food items. If left unchecked they can lead to severe complications associated with malnutrition and in some cases death.

Major things to look out for include sudden and extreme food restrictions, binging during meal times, induced vomiting and excessive exercise. Eating disorders causes vary and can include genetics but even though they appear in all ages and genders they afflict adolescents and young women to a greater extent.

Symptoms of Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a body image disorder affecting many adolescents and young women with victims viewing themselves as overweight. Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include obsessive-compulsive traits such as hoarding or collecting certain food items, monitoring weight, limiting calories and avoiding particular food types.

Victims develop a real fear of weight gain and this leads to behaviors such as overexercising, binge eating and purging, avoiding eating in public spaces and regular use of laxatives. The condition can lead to severe malnutrition and organ failure leading to fatality.

Detecting Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia is another common disorder with some similarities to anorexia and it involves eating large amounts of a disliked or an avoided food at a certain time. Victims of the condition eat to the point of pain and then induce purging through the use of laxatives, vomiting, fasting, enemas, diuretics or intense exercise.

The constant purging may cause complications including swollen saliva glands, tooth decay, gum disease, dehydration, gut irritation and sore throat.

Binge eating disorder

Binge eating disorder is a common problem in the western world and appears during the teen years, lasting a lifetime in some cases. It is characterized by a lack of control when consuming certain types of food in large quantities over relatively short periods of time.

However, individuals with binge eating disorder do not purge or watch calories and this can lead to weight gain and obesity. Individuals also feel shame and disgust after an episode that can lead to low self-esteem and low mood.

Pica eating disorder

Pica is a unique disorder that is characterized by ingesting objects that are not really food or those with no nutritional value. Victims of pica will eat dirt, ice, soil, cloth, pebbles, clay, soap and detergents, paper, hair, etc.

Pica is mostly observed in small children, pregnant women and adolescents. Pica can put individuals at an increased risk of infections, poisoning, injuries and deficiencies. Some forms of pica are treated as normal in some cultures for pregnant women but still poses a danger to health.

Rumination disorder

Rumination disorder occurs when individuals voluntarily regurgitate eaten food and chew it again or chew it out.  Not to be confused with reflux syndrome, this condition usually happens within thirty minutes of having a meal and is observed in infants where it disappears on its own. If it persists to childhood and adulthood it may result in loss of weight and malnutrition, especially where food is spat out.