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The Lasting Effects of Bulimia

The longer you suffer with bulimia, more organs will be affected and damaged, the more damage you will wreak on your body, your internal organs and the more long-lasting will be the effects to your general health.   Bulimia affects different organs. The organs that suffer the most are: heart, kidney, brain, digestive system, bones, skin and endocrine glands. This is the truth, not just a warning, or some nonsense to scare you.
The effects of bulimia last much longer than the time it takes to cure a person from the eating disorder.
There are "medical complications" and long term effects associated with eating disorders.
Both anorexia and bulimia share long-term, terrible effects on your health, including:

Bulimia is a serious eating disorder. Binging and purging depletes the body of necessary nutrients, so leaves bulimics may remain at increased risk for osteoporosis, reproductive problems, diabetes, and cholesterol elevation. In addition to long lasting physical problems, it has been found that the long term effects of bulimia may also include the development of depression, and anxiety disorders.


Heart failure is one of the most prominent and deadly effects of bulimia. The heart is damaged by constant purging (through vomiting or alternative methods such as laxatives), which  places a great strain on the heart.  Some people even can die from this complication when a weak heart goes into a "heart block". This is when the heart suddenly stops beating due to extremely low potassium or other mineral deficiency induced by vomiting and laxatives abuse. The constant electrolyte imbalance caused by purging damages the heart and it becomes weaker as long as bulimia continues., It can also lead to  a heart attack or arrhythmias.


Also at a high risk of damage are the kidneys. The kidneys are organs that normally correct mineral abnormalities in the body. They must overwork to regulate the minerals in the body, so in bulimics they can be affected for the now and future.. Kidney damage can be serious and even fatal and kidney damage is s VERY Common among long term bulimics.


The Brain suffers terribly from Bulimia, almost from the moment it starts. Distorted thought patterns run, like depression and anxiety.   Purging and Binging become an addiction and addictive behavior in and of themselves.  The long time effects of brain damage from bulimia are: suicidal thoughts, smoking or substance abuse, sexually promiscuous behavior, and self-inflicted harm (such as cutting).  Impulsive behavior can occur and people can become less responsible for their action.  Some people end up living with bulimia their entire lives; it is a never-ending battle to stay healthy.


Circulatory disorders such as high blood pressure, headaches, a contstant feeling of fatigue and even seizures can remain as long-term effects as well.. 


The digestive system also gets affected badly. The stomach experience delays in empting its food content and people suffer from pains in the abdominal area, bloating, acid reflux, stomach ulcers and esophageal problems.
In long standing bulimia cases sufferers loose the feeling of being hungry or full. Sometimes their taste distorts which makes them eat strange combinations of food or experience cravings (for example craving to eat very salty or sour things).


Skin loses its youthful look even at a relatively young age. Dry skin, inflammation of the skin, abnormal irritation and ongoing pimples are common problems for bulimics.
Hair loss due to mineral and protein depletion is inevitable in long term bulimia.


The endocrine glands eventually stop working properly and produce fewer hormones than the body needs: this makes a person age quickly and loose muscle tone, which even excessive exercising will not make up for.


Irreversible Osteoporosis has been known to occur in those who are bulimic. Osteoporosis occurs when, as a child or teen, the bone mineral density doesn't grow sufficiently. .When Vitamins and Minerals, such as Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorous are lacking from one’s diet it can also occur. People can and do complain about their bone's aching plus they have lots of pain and the bones can break from even minimal strain or pressure


Teeth are also affected by bulimia due to stomach acid from vomiting; teeth can decay and even fall out.


Menstruation often stops for women who suffer from bulimia for a long time.  This too can be irreversible, and when irreversible, those women will be unable to conceive and have a baby.
So you can see, the long term effects of bulimia nervosa can be and are extremely dangerous to one’s health. Treatment for this disorder becomes more complicated the longer it goes on.
To prevent these dangerous effects from happening, you need to treat the disease sooner rather than later.
Start educating yourself and your family about what to do and what to change at home to help the person suffering from this disease. Home and family support have been proven to be the best way of treating this condition. But it needs to be the right help and the right support.

Rika B.

NOTE/Disclaimer: Inclusion in our list of organizations, books, counselors, and other links and resources does not necessarily indicate a recommendation or endorsement. What is helpful for another survivor may not be right for you. As always, use your own judgment when contacting any of these organizations. Advice given at this website, or in conjunction with Joshua Childrens Foundation activities is not to be taken as a counseling or clinical relationship but only as suggestion based on the founders personal experience as a sex abuse victim resulting in bulimia eating disorder and the healing journey from that. Articles, links, or content contained on this website should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner, nor should it be inferred as such. Always check with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about a specific condition. Joshua Childrens Foundation does not take any responsibility and is held harmless from any actions by anyone associated with the websites we link to.