Medical complications

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A. Medical complications of bulimia nervosa include fatigue, bloating and constipation, to chronic or life-threatening conditions, including hypokalemia, cathartic colon, impaired renal function and cardiac arrest.

B. Binge eating may cause gastric rupture, the most serious complication, is uncommon. More often, patients describe nausea, abdominal pain and distention, prolonged digestion and weight gain. The combination of heightened anxiety, physical discomfort and intense guilt provokes the drive to purge the food by self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise or the misuse of ipecac, laxatives or diuretics. These purgative methods are associated with the more serious complications of bulimia nervosa.

C. Self-induced vomiting is used by more than 75 percent of patients with bulimia nervosa. Most patients vomit immediately or soon after a binge. Vomiting is induced by stimulation of the pharynx using a finger or a narrow object such as a toothbrush. Self-induced vomiting can lead to a number of serious medical complications, such as depletions of chloride, potassium, sodium and magnesium. Hypokalemia is a potential medical emergency.

Medical Complications of Bulimia Nervosa

Type of Behavior


Binge eating

Gastric rupture, nausea, abdominal pain and disten-tion, prolonged digestion

Purging (self-induced vomiting)

Dental erosion, enlarged salivary glands Oral/hand trauma, esophagitis, pharyngitis, upper gastrointestinal tears, hematemesis abdominal pain, hypokalemia, fatigue, muscle spasms, palpitations, paresthesias, tetany, seizures, arrhythmias

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Breaking Bulimia

Breaking Bulimia

We have all been there: turning to the refrigerator if feeling lonely or bored or indulging in seconds or thirds if strained. But if you suffer from bulimia, the from time to time urge to overeat is more like an obsession.

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