The Ways To Prevent Deaths From Bulimia

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Mental disorders consist of a range of ailments that usually have different symptoms. Mental disorders are generally characterized by an expression of abnormal behavior, thoughts, relationship, and emotions with others. There are several mental disorders attributed to general medical conditions, such as catatonia, acquired agraphia, general paresis, eating disorder, acquired alexia, personality disorder, dysphoric disorder, and interracial psychosis (Sachdev et al., 2014). This research expounds on eating disorders and lays focus on Bulimia. Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that often require the intervention of psychological and medical experts. The recent statistics show that over 30 million people in the United States have or have had experienced an eating disorder in their life (Brownell & Walsh, 2017). There are six types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, Bulimia, eating disorder, pica, rumination, and avoidant disorder. Eating disorder is described as a range of psychological conditions that cause the development of unhealthy eating habits. If not treated and given immediate attention, it can be deadly or lead to dangerous health effects. They affect both genders at any life stage, but they are most common in young women and adolescents (Mehler & Andersen, 2017). Eating disorders are manifested by an obsession with body shape or food.

History shows that Bulimia has been plaguing people since before we understood them. Bulimia is believed to have been in existence for a long time though it was hardly understood. It is described as a series of life-threatening eating disorders (Smink, Hoeken, Oldehinkel & Hoek, 2014). People ailing from this disease eat a lot of food and afterward try to get rid of the excess calories in an unhealthy means. According to Mehler et al., (2017), 70% of the respondents described the situation as typical in campuses, and more than half of the women respondents knew at least two people with eating disorders.

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To overcome life-threatening threats of Bulimia, people must be aware of its signs and symptoms. The disease is secretive, and it affects people of all body sizes and shapes. A person ailing from Bulimia will eat a large quantity of food and then show compensatory behavior. This means they more food within short periods than the expected limits. Such victims cannot control their eating habits and end up feeling ashamed and guilty. These feelings lead to compensatory behaviors aimed at getting rid of the extra calories consumed (Schmidt, Treasure, & Alexander, 2015). Such practices include; abuse of laxatives, over-exercise or fasting, self-induced vomiting, and diet pills. Also, victims feel dehydrated or very weak. Laxative abuse and self-induced vomiting make individuals lose a lot of calcium and potassium, which leads to dangerous electrolyte imbalances and dehydration (Agh et al., 2016). During such cases, the victims experience lethargy, severe cardiac irregularities, and lightheadedness.

People with Bulimia have unusual behavior, such as disappearing to the bathroom following a meal. Moreover, they excessively take fluids after a meal, and they prefer eating alone in private or isolation. They also have an intense fear of gaining weight, express strong dissatisfaction about their appearance or body size, have dental issues due to self-induced vomiting. Vomiting leads to the build-up of acid levels in the mouth, which further causes tooth decay, discoloration, and erosion (Levinson et al., 2017). Scars on fingers or knuckles are another indication of Bulimia, and they are common amongst individuals who repeatedly practice self-induced vomiting. Besides, bulimia patients show signs of self-withdrawal whereby they isolate themselves to avoid social interaction during mealtime. Occasionally, the patients tend to over-exercise to get rid of extra calories, even though not all over-exercises are a sign of Bulimia. Exercise is currently used as an alternative to burning calories and is mostly embraced by men. The main side effects of Bulimia are swollen salivary gland, irritation of gut, hormonal disturbance, and inflamed and sore throat. In women, it can lead to increased physical damage, such as bloating, dehydration, seizure, menstrual irregularities, and muscular cramps.

The specific cause of Bulimia is yet to be identified, but it is believed that several factors such as environmental, cultural, psychological, and genetic factors have contributed to this disorder. Some of the causes are; poor self-esteem, negative body image, professions, history of abuse, and stressful transitions (Knott, Woodward, Hoe kens, & Limbert, 2015). Bulimia has become a challenging illness. According to Knott et al (2015), 5 % of American women are affected by the disease during their lifetime, and the standardized mortality ratio is 1.93. Besides, 3.9% of people with Bulimia end up dying, while only 6% of the affected individual obtain treatment.

According to Schmidt et al., (2015), the first step is conducting a physical examination, blood or urine tests, and psychological evaluation. Psychological evaluation is useful in determining a person’s relationship with body image and food. Mainly, doctors use criteria from the Diagnostic and Manual of Mental Disorders, which uses standard language and criteria to diagnose mental disorders (Smink et al., 2014). The procedure entails regular purging through vomiting, proper binge eating, persistent purging behavior, improving self-worth from body shape and weight, bingeing, and lack of anorexia nervosa. Binge eating is eating in a discrete period; for instance, one hour, a large amount of food that would be consumed for a longer period. Usually, the patients have a constant urge to eat. Diagnosis test is also conducted to eliminate other medical causes. Physical examination is done, and it involves measuring weight and height, temperature, the rate of heartbeats, observing the skin color, and abdominal review. A laboratory test is performed to check for protein and electrolyte and functioning conditions of the liver, thyroid, and kidney. After proper analysis of these tests, the appropriate treatment is then recommended.

In other instances, the treatment of Bulimia requires a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants. Psychotherapy involves a comprehensive discussion of the disorder with a mental health professional. There are three types of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family-based treatment, and interpersonal psychotherapy (Knott et al., 2015). Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps the victim in normalizing eating patterns and identifying unhealthy behaviors and negative beliefs and substituting them with positive and healthy behaviors. Family-based treatment allows parents to intervene in their children’s harmful eating behavior to normalize their behaviors. Interpersonal psychotherapy addresses problems experienced in relationships hence improving problem-solving skills and communication. Also, medications, such as antidepressants, reduce the symptoms of Bulimia, and they are used along with psychotherapy (Schmidt et al., 2015). The commonly used drug is fluoxetine. Besides, nutrition education helps overcome Bulimia by designing an eating plan to help achieve healthy eating behaviors. Victims need to eat regularly and avoid restricting their food intake.

According to Sachdev et al., (2014), most of the people affected by eating disorders rarely seek treatment, and this adversely affects their health. Victims who seek treatment improve their eating habits and take control of their eating disorder. The outlook for people with Bulimia is more positive (Perez, Diest & Cutts, 2014). However, there is no scientifically proven cause of Bulimia.

To wrap up, Bulimia is a common and treatable eating disorder. People with Bulimia have an average or above-average weight, water-electrolyte imbalance, vomiting due to overeating, bad breath, dental dryness, inflammation of gut, constipation, and irregular menstruation. Once diagnosed early, it is treatable. Fluoxetine and CBT are the most commonly used treatments. People need to be advised to seek medication after experiencing the above symptoms. Eating disorders are life-threatening and result in deaths of almost 10% of the individuals diagnosed with it (Knott et al., 2015). Scientific research needs to be conducted to find out the cause of Bulimia. Parents need to monitor their children on their eating habits and correct them and in advanced cases, seek medical attention. If a person is not keen, it might be challenging to recognize Bulimia. The diagnosis criteria and diagnostic tests are essential tools in diagnosing a patient’s ailment to administer the proper medication. Therefore, with the appropriate observation of the symptoms and proper medical care, the number of deaths caused by Bulimia can be minimized.

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