Dangers of Anorexia

Dangers of Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa has a multitude of medical complications ranging from mild to severe. In fact, 5-20% of anorexics die, usually from complications associated with self-starvation, such as: heart, kidney, or multiple organ failure, or illnesses like pneumonia, which may be due to an inability to fight infection—all due to the dangers of anorexia.

• Cardiac Problems—irregular heartbeat

• Gastrointestinal disorders—risk of internal bleeding, ulcers, gastritis, and constipation

• Amenorrhea—due to decreased estrogen production, which causes females to cease ovulation and mentration

• Anemia—a blood disorder characterized by either a decrease in the number of read cells, or a reduction in hemoglobin; the body’s ability to carry oxygen frm the lungs to its tissues is reduced; often caused by an iron deficiancy

• bingeing—an effect of starvation

• bruising

• decreased testicular function in men—some studies reveal a decrease in testosterone and certain male hormones

• dental decay and discoloration

• depressed immune system

• dizziness

• dry skin; brittle hair and nails

• edema—water retention, most commonly in the ankles and feet

• endocrine abnormalities

• fainting

• high cholesterol—an effect of starvation, not necessarily warranting a low cholesterol diet

• hyperactivity

• hypoglycemia

• increased risk of osteoporosis—bones lose density and fracture easily

• insomnia

• ketosis—the excessive accumultion of ketone bodies in the blood and urine, which is indicative of the body digesting its fat stores as a sole source of energy

• kidney damage/failure—usually due to dehydration; many be worsened by the use of diuretics

• lanugo—the growth of fine hair on the body, which is the body’s attempt to keep itself warm when fat stores are depleted

• liver damage—a condition that is usually irreparable

• loss of hair on the head

• low blood pressure

• low body temperature—causes anorexics to feel cold

• muscle cramps and weakness—usually due to electrolyte imbalances

• pancreatitis—the painful swelling of the pancreas evidenced by severe abdominal pain, distention, and fever

• sensitivity to light and sound

• yellow skin—also called hypercarotinemia

Reprinted with permission from Anorexia Nervosa: A Guide to Recovery
By Lindsey Hall & Monika Ostroff
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