Many people in the UK suffer from eating disorders that could see them restricting the amount of food they eat or becoming so obsessed with food that they binge-eat. An eating disorder generally comes from an unhealthy attitude towards food, which will then become an obsession. Those with an eating disorder will usually be obsessed with their body shape, weight, and the food choices they must make. Their obsession can ultimately cause damage to their health, with many sufferers restricting the amount of food they intake to such an extent that they lose large amounts of weight, or others over-eating to the extent that they become obese and develop the health problems that inevitably come with this condition.
Types of Eating Disorder
Anorexia nervosa is the eating disorder that most people are aware of. This condition causes sufferers to see themselves as overweight. They will then restrict their food intake dramatically and could become obsessive about exercising in order to lose as much weight as possible.
Bulimia is another common eating disorder; this condition results in sufferers binge eating and then making themselves sick or taking laxatives so that they do not gain weight.
Compulsive eating is a food addiction where a person becomes addicted to eating. They may eat uncontrollably, despite not being hungry. Many compulsive eaters will end up overweight and may develop health problems because of this.
The Dangers of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders can affect a person both physically and mentally. They are typically common in teenagers or young adults and, although they are more common in women, they can affect men too. Those who suffer from certain eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia may find that their bodies are starved of essential minerals and nutrients, which can affect health. The body will slow down certain processes in a bid to save energy when these minerals and nutrients are not present. This can lead to a slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which, in turn, can lead to heart failure. Osteoporosis and muscle weakness can affect those with anorexia. They may also suffer from kidney failure as a result of severe dehydration.
Anorexics who have lost large quantities of weight may notice a fine downy hair appearing over the body. This is known as lanugo and it grows to help keep the body warm.
Bulimics can suffer from other health problems because of the constant binge eating and purging. Constantly making themselves sick can lead to extreme dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. This electrolyte imbalance can cause heart failure and death in extreme cases.
Constant vomiting can damage the oesophagus and the acids from the stomach can lead to tooth staining and decay. Continuous bingeing can cause gastric rupture. Those who take laxatives regularly can be affected by constipation and irregular bowel movements.
Compulsive eaters often end up suffering from obesity, which can lead to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Eating disorders are mental illnesses and are often accompanied by other conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, or depression. Many individuals suffering from mental health problems will self-medicate with substances such as prescription medication, alcohol, or illegal drugs. If they find that these substances provide some relief, they may begin to use them more and more, meaning that they are in danger of developing another form of addiction. Some with eating disorders will abuse diet pills, which can have serious side effects.
Getting the Right Help
Addiction Helper is a free service working to put those who need help in touch with the organisations providing the most suitable treatments for their condition. Contact us today to see how we can help you.