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Eating disorders: common symptoms and warning signs

Source: NIH MedlinePlus magazine, Spring 2008

Anorexia Nervosa: symptoms and warning signs

  • emaciation (extremely thin from lack of nutrition)
  • relentless pursuit of thinness; unwilling to maintain a normal or healthy weight
  • distorted body image; intense fear of gaining weight
  • lack of menstruation among girls and woman
  • repeatedly weighing him/herself
  • portioning food carefully, eating only small amounts of only certain foods
  • excessive exercise, self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas



Other symptoms that may develop over time:

  • thinning bones
  • brittle hair and nails
  • dry, yellowish skin
  • growth of fine hair over the body
  • mild anemia and muscle weakness and loss
  • sever constipation
  • low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
  • feeling cold all the time
  • lethargy

Bulimia Nervosa: symptoms and warning signs

  • frequently eating large amonts of food (binge-eating)
  • feeling a lack of control over the eating
  • compensating for binge-eating with self-iduced vomiting, misuse of laxatives and diuretics, fasting and excessive exercise
  • binging and purging in secret; feelings of shame and disgust
  • intensely unhappy with body size and shape despite normal height and weight

Other symptoms include:

  • chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • swollen glands in neck and below jaw
  • worn tooth enamel from exposure to stomach acids
  • gastroesophageal reflux disorder
  • intestinal distress from laxative abuse
  • kidney problmes from diuretic abuse
  • sever dehydration from purging

Binge Eating Disorder: symptoms and warning signs

  • frequently eating large amounts of food (binge-eating)
  • feeling unable to control the eating behavior
  • feelings of guilt, shame, and/or distress about the behavior, which can lead to more binge-eating

Posted July 2008
Last reviewed June 2010


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