Anorexia also known as anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that makes people obsessed with their weight and what they eat. People with anorexia are strict with the amount of food they eat, so as to prevent or to continue losing weight. They control the amount of calorie intake by vomiting after eating, misuse of laxatives, use of diet aids or diuretics. On the negative side is that no matter how much weight one losses there is continuous fear of weight gain. Sometimes it’s a way of coping with emotional problems.
Causes of anorexia.
- Biological – may be a genetic tendency for perfection.
- Psychological- one is obsessed to stick to a strict diet despite being hungry.
- Environmental- western culture especially those working in the fashion industry as models, there is emphasizes of one to be thin.
Symptoms of anorexia
It is not easy sometimes to notice the signs and symptoms of anorexia. Low body weight is different for each individual and some may not appear extremely thin. Symptoms can be divided into:
- Physical symptoms- may include:
- One feels dizzy.
- Extreme weight loss.
- Abnormal blood counts.
- Low blood pressure.
- Some experience absence of menses.
- Intolerance to cold.
- Irregular heart rhythms.
- Teeth become eroded and calluses are present on knuckles due to induced vomiting.
- Emotional and behavioral symptoms.
Behavioral symptoms are attempts one makes so as to lose weight. Include:
- Self-inducing vomiting so as to get rid of the food.
- Excessive doing of exercise.
- Restricting food intake through dieting.
Emotional symptoms are:
- Skipping of meals.
- Not wanting to eat in public.
- Lying about the amount of food one has taken.
- Fear of gaining weight that can lead to repeat weighing of one’s weight after every meal.
- Complaints that one is fat.
- Social withdraw.
- Clothing in baggy clothes.
- Restricting what one eats.
- One may suffer from anaemia.
- Have heart problems e.g. heart failure.
- Increase the risk of bone fractures.
- Loss of muscles.
- Absence of periods in females while in males it can lead to a testosterone level decrease.
- Development of gastrointestinal problems such as constipation.
- Kidney problems due to electrolyte abnormalities.
- Organ damage in severe cases.
- Personality disorder.
- This can lead to the development of depression or anxiety.
- Substance misuse e.g. alcohol.
- Development of suicidal thoughts.
Diagnosis of anorexia
- Physical examination where weight and blood pressure are checked.
- Laboratory tests e.g. complete blood count are done to see if one is anaemic and the level of electrolytes.
- Physiological evaluation where a series of questions are asked.
- Hospitalization especially in cases where there is electrolyte imbalances or heart rhythm disturbance.
- Medical care where one is fed through the nasogastric tube.
- Healthy weight restoration through the use of a meal plan provided by a dietitian.