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Diseases & Conditions

Eating Disorders

Eating DisordersCausesMedicationsPrecautionsRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentTypes

What are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are generally characterized by abnormal eating habits. This may be in two different ways – either eating insufficient food during a meal or eating too much food during the meal. Both these conditions are harmful to the human body. A person’s physical health is defined by his eating habits and the food that he eats.

Causes of Eating Disorders

For every eating disorder, there may be different causes though the primary cause remains unknown, but the following is a list of causes which may singly or in multiples contribute to eating disorders.

  • Biological
    • Major life transitions – Patients have difficulty with change and adjusting to change. They eat out of the disability to cope with their surroundings.
  • Psychological
    • Co-morbid disorders
    • Axis-I
    • Axis-II
    • Depression and Anxiety
    • Obsessive compulsive disorder
    • Substance abuse and alcohol intake
    • Multiple personality disorder

Medication for Eating Disorders

No known medication is available to patients because of the psychological aspect of the illness. However, owing to the heart, kidney and stomach disorders, there are medicines available for problems faced due to the eating disorders. Kidney infections and stomach ulcers have specific medicines while more commonplace problems like tooth enamel loss can be treated by dental fixtures.

Precautions of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are common and are a result of depression and psychological problems; therefore, it is essential to take a few precautions before they become a habit.

  • Stress relief should be attained by psychological means and not by biological means
  • Prevent addiction to food
  • Take care to control your food habits and behavior
  • Do not skip meals
  • Obsession with work and hobbies need to be monitored
  • Control over-eating
  • Talk about your mental problems
  • Join support groups

Risk Factors of Eating Disorders

More than 7 million people in the US are victims of eating disorders. Most of the causes are general though some are odd causes. Therefore, risk factors cannot be established though the risks of eating disorders are:

  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration and Weakness
  • Ulcers, heart and kidney problems
  • Physical and mental imbalance

Permanent physical damage is inevitable in these cases. They can even be fatal in most cases.

Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Though there are several types of eating disorders, the commonest forms of eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. Without proper recognition of symptoms, they may pass onto the next stage which could be rendered incurable.

Symptoms of anorexia include:

  • Being excessively skinny and underweight
  • Refusal to eat in public places
  • Pretense to eat
  • Use of oversize clothing to hide their skinny bodies
  • Health and physical problems

Symptoms of bulimia include:

  • Weight fluctuations in short periods of time
  • Eating large quantities of food
  • Frequent vomiting and purging
  • Eating in private
  • Abuse of laxatives

Treatment for Eating Disorders

Intravenous fluids need to be provided to treat the dehydration and electrolytic deficiencies of the body. Force feeding may be required for the patients to make sure that the body regains a bit of health. Medications may be required for heart and kidney problems. A balanced diet needs to be prescribed to the patient in order to help him gain health. The patient needs to be counseled against his harmful habits. Education needs to be provided to him about eating disorders and their fatality. Constant monitoring needs to be present to ensure that the patient does not indulge in picky or excessive eating habits again.

Types of Eating Disorders

  • There are a few major types of eating disorders all of which it are listed below:
  • Anorexia Nervosa – obsessive fear of gaining weight and maintaining a less-than-healthy body weight
  • Bulimia Nervosa – recurrent eating and excessive eating with compensatory behavior
  • Binge Eating Disorder – Excessive eating without compensatory behavior
  • Purging Disorder – Recurrent purging to control weight and shape
  • Rumination – Painless regurgitation of food accompanied by binge eating episodes
  • Diabulimia – manipulation of insulin levels by means of food in an effort to control weight
  • Pica – Obsessive compulsive disorder for eating, chewing and licking non-food items