If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder you may be struggling with a behavior known as “purging”. This is a behavior where a person forces themselves to throw up, typically following a meal. Purging might happen because you are afraid of gaining weight, feel guilty about the food you have just eaten, or maybe it’s become a comfortable and familiar way to deal with overwhelming emotions.
Purging may provide temporary comfort but this behavior can have a long-lasting impact on your body. Frequent purging can cause;
-Dehydration is caused by frequent loss of fluids during purging and can cause;
-Lowered Blood Pressure (hypotension)
-Slow or Irregular Heart Rate
-Tooth Decay This is caused by stomach acid contacting the teeth during frequent episodes of purging
-Tears in the stomach lining. This may lead to blood in the vomit
-Frequent upper-respiratory infections due to inhaling vomit and/or due to contact with objects that are used to cause vomiting.
-Electrolyte imbalances this can lead to abnormally low potassium levels and cause fatigue and in extreme cases death.
-Weakened digestive muscles which can lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder it is important that an eating disorder is a life-threatening illness. Without help these symptoms tend to get worse and the more you purge the more severe these symptoms will become.
If you are struggling in your relationship with your food or body it is normal to have feelings of shame or embarrassment. These feelings or a fear of change may keep you from asking for help. Yet eating disorders do not go away on their own. Working with your primary care doctor can help you recover from the effects of self-induced vomiting and resources such as the National Eating Disorder Association https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ offer a confidential hotline and referrals for anyone who is struggling with or cares about someone struggling with an eating disorder.