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2nd part of our Bulimia review examines some of the complications associated with the condition...also support information for those seeking help

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Bulimia Nervosa (Part 2)

Complications of bulimia

In addition to the psychological effects causes and effects of anorexia and bulimia, physical complications can include:


Dental problems: Persistent vomiting (for those suffering from bulimia) causes stomach acid to damage the teeth enamel which can lead to tooth decay. Excessive vomiting can also cause bad breath and a sore throat.


Poor skin and hair: A lack of nutrients through malnutrition, persistent vomiting or laxative use can affect the health of skin and hair. It can cause skin and hair to become dry and fingernails to become brittle.


Irregular periods: The menstrual cycle can become unpredictable or even stop altogether. This can affect fertility.


Swollen glands: The saliva glands can become swollen from frequent vomiting. This causes the face to appear rounder.


Chemical imbalance: Malnutrition and excessive vomiting and laxative use can cause chemical imbalances. This can result in tiredness, weakness, abnormal heart rhythms, kidney damage, seizures and muscle spasms.


Bowel problems: Excessive use of laxatives can damage bowel muscles causing lazy bowels which can result in permanent constipation.


Poor circulation: Can manifest itself as cold hands and cold or uneven colours on extremities such as hands and feet.


Heart problems: Long-term, eating disorders increase the risk of heart problems.


Differences between anorexia and bulimia

People with anorexia are usually underweight while people with bulimia can often have a normal weight. Anorexia often starts earlier than bulimia. Anorexia can start early to mid-teens while bulimia may start in late teens or early twenties. People with bulimia are more likely to seek help than those with anorexia. Anorexia is associated with anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression while bulimia is associated with depression, self-harm and substance misuse. More people recover from bulimia than anorexia.


More help



Bodywhys is a national voluntary organisation supporting people affected by eating disorders in Ireland. They provide support and education through volunteers as well as providing support and advice through their helpline as well as online support through their website For more help and information, you can call Bodywhys at 01 2107906 or email


More information

References for this article are available on request. More comprehensive and detailed advice and information on anorexia and bulimia is available in Whelehans pharmacy; ask our staff for details. Also detailed information on anorexia and bulimia is available at 

To be continued…next week.

Disclaimer: Information given is general; please ensure you consult with your healthcare professional before making any changes recommended

For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to or dial 04493 34591. Email queries to Find us on Facebook.

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