Tag Archives: eating disorder

Fast Facts About Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are prevalent in America. They are very serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions. It is so important to be able to recognize the signs of eating disorders so you can help someone who may be struggling with one, or recognize early signs in yourself to help prevent full onset. Let’s take a look at some of the facts:

  • Eating disorders are often a result of a severely impaired self image (body dysmorphia), as well as other influencing factors.
  • Those with anorexia have an intense fear of gaining weight and fear they are much larger than they actually are.
  • People suffering from either bulimia or anorexia struggle with distorted body images and very low self esteem.
  • The three main eating disorders are: Bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder. There are other subtypes such as anorexia athletica as well.
  • Eating disorders are not simply a matter of choice. They are medical conditions that can be deadly.
  • Nearly 24 million Americans struggle with an eating disorder, many of whom deal with comorbid depression or anxiety as well.
  • Eating disorders are treatable but unfortunately, only 10% of those with eating disorders will get treatment for their condition.
  • Anorexia is 12 times more likely to kill young women (aged 15-24) than any other cause of death.
  • Eating disorder sufferers often will go to great lengths to hide their disorder from others, which can make it difficult to spot or treat.
  • Women suffering from anorexia nervosa often experience dysmenorrhea (absence of periods) from malnutrition.
  • Anorexia can cause serious problems to nearly every system in the body, eventually leading to organ damage or failure if left untreated.
  • People suffering from anorexia nervosa typically have body weights of under 85% of the range considered healthy for their height.
  • Bulimia sufferers may ingest large amounts of food (often in private), followed by purging via laxatives or vomiting. Often this cycle involves a surplus of guilt about eating and weight.
  • There are two types of anorexia nervosa: restricting subtype (where the individual drastically restricts caloric intake), and the purging subtype (the person uses laxatives, exercise or vomiting to purge calories that have been consumed).
  • Individuals with binge eating disorders (BED) engage in episodes of high-caloric binge eating, but do not follow these episodes with purging like a bulimic person would.
  • Binge eating disorders are sometimes called compulsive overeating or food addiction.
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric disorder.
  • Causes of eating disorders may include a combination of genetics, chemical imbalances, low self esteem or body dysmorphic issues, traumatic lifestyle or family dysfunction.
  • Symptoms of anorexia include: the person thinking they are fat when they are in fact thin, drastically under-eating or counting calories, missing menstrual periods, hair loss, fuzzy “peach fuzz” hair over face, arms or back, fatigue, syncope (fainting), skin discoloration, frailty, weight loss, stomach issues (such as frequent trips to the washroom or constipation).
  • Symptoms of bulimia include: self esteem and body image issues, binge eating episodes, frequent washroom trips (especially directly after eating), poor control over binge eating, hidden wrappers and disappearing food, excessive use of laxatives, puffy cheeks, tooth problems, frequent weight fluctuations.
  • Eating disorders are highly treatable, but it is so important for people to seek medical help if they are suffering from or know someone suffering from an eating disorder.
  • Treatment includes a variety of steps including helping the person return to a normal weight, treating the underlying psychological issues such as self esteem, as well as to help the person overcome any obsessions, actions or thoughts that contributed to the eating disorder.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, talk to a doctor today or call The Academy for Eating Disorders (847-498-4274) or the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (847-831-3438). Thanks for visiting DocChat!

What is Pica?

Pica is an eating disorder characterized by the tenacious need or desire to ingest non-food, non-nutritious items that lasts longer than a few weeks. Pica can be serious and even life threatening (depending on the substance that is ingested).

How Common is Pica?

It is difficult to tell how prevalent the disorder is among the general population, as it has been studied and researched mostly among institutionalized populations. Pica cravings are sometimes seen in pregnant women and appear to be fairly common among very young children, but they often grow out of pica tendencies. Pica has also been linked with other conditions such as epilepsy, autism as well as cognitive impairment.

What Types of Things Do People With Pica Crave?

Those with pica may crave and consume nearly anything, including:

  • Ice
  • Dirt
  • Clay
  • Chalk
  • Wax
  • Dish detergent or cleaning solution
  • Burnt matches
  • Cardboard
  • Paint chips or liquid paint
  • Hair
  • Excrement
  • Blood
  • Glass
  • Ashes
  • Wood

What Are The Potential Complications of Pica?

Ingesting certain toxic or harmful substances can have serious or even deadly consequences such as: tooth problems, constipation or diarrhea, bowel obstructions or perforations, intestinal hemorrhages, poisoning (most commonly lead poisoning), infections or parasite infestations.

Pregnancy Pica

We all know pregnancy can sometimes bring about some strange cravings such as pickles or mustard on everything, but sometimes pregnancy may cause pica tendencies, often for earthy-type substances like soil. It isn’t known exactly why pregnancy may bring about cravings for non-nutritional items, in some cases a deficiency may be to blame. Pregnant women often crave ice, which is called pagophagia which has been linked to underlying anemia in rare cases.

Pica in Children

It is common for babies to put objects in their mouth while they are trying to figure the world out, but when a child becomes old enough to know the difference but still eats dirt or non-food items, pica may be the cause. Pica in children appears to be most common among toddlers but can occur at any age. Children often outgrow the tendency, but it may resurface late in like.

Potential Reasons Behind Pica

The exact causes of pica aren’t fully understood or identified but different cases may be influenced by different factors such as:

  • Underlying mental health disorders such as OCD, schizophrenia or generalized anxiety disorder
  • Underlying physical health conditions such as epilepsy, anemia or
  • Cultural, religious or learned behavior – In some cultures eating clay or earth-type substances (geophagia) is accepted and learned.
  • Some pica sufferers use it as a means to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Some people with pica insist they simply enjoy the taste of their chosen non-food item

Because pica can be life threatening in some cases, if you yourself have the disorder or you suspect your child may have pica, it is important to seek evaluation from a doctor who will start the diagnostic process and get you or your child the suitable help to overcome the disorder. Thanks for visiting DocChat!