At least 30 million Americans have an eating disorder; of these, 10 million are men.
Eating disorders are serious medical illnesses that require immediate medical attention and treatment. Left untreated, eating disorders can weaken a patient significantly, and may require a trip to the emergency room. Eating disorders can also be fatal.
There are many types of eating disorders, but all have at their basis an unhealthy relationship with food and an obsession with body image and weight. Eating disorders affect a person physically, mentally, socially, and psychologically. Individuals who suffer from the condition may have different symptoms depending on the type of disorder. The most common symptom is an excessive restriction on food, inappropriate purging behavior, and food binges.
3 Major Kinds of Eating Disorders
There are three main eating disorders:
- Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa (commonly just “anorexia”) is perhaps the most recognizable eating disorder. It may begin in adolescence or early adulthood, and women are more affected by this condition than men.
It involves a strongly held misperception about a person’s own weight and body image. For example, people with anorexia may be dangerous underweight for their age and height, and yet they persist in the belief that they are fat and disgusting. People suffering from anorexia obsessively monitor their weight and tend to place unreasonable restrictions on their diet.
Common symptoms for this condition include:
- being severely underweight
- extreme denial of being underweight
- having a distorted body image
- limiting eating patterns
- an irrational fear of gaining any amount of weight
- an unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight
- Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa (commonly just “bulimia”) shares some similarities with anorexia as both of these conditions develop during adolescence or early adulthood. This condition is characterized by a binge-and-purge pattern: eating unusually large amounts of food in short bursts, followed by throwing it up. The food consumed during a binge is usually the “bad” foods they typically avoid when on a diet.
Laxatives, diuretics, and enemas may also be used to purge the binged foods. Or, bulimia sufferers may fast (consume no food at all) and engage in extensive exercise in order to counteract effects of the binge episode.
- Binge Eating Disorder
Like bulimia, binge eating disorder involves bouts of uncontrollable eating. The notable difference between this disorder and anorexia or bulimia is that there is no calorie restriction or purging here. For that reason, people with binge eating disorder are often significantly overweight – with an increased risk of weight-related disease and illness.
Health Care Clinic for Eating Disorders
If you or a person you know has an eating disorder, see a medical professional right away. If you live in the Pacific Northwest (Washington and New Mexico), visit the Lynx Healthcare Clinic nearest you. You can request an appointment now or call the clinic at (509) 591- 0070.