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Eating Disorders: Physical and Medical Complications


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• Amenorrhea (loss of menstruation)

• Anemia

• Bingeing (side effect of starvation)

• Bloating

• Bowel bleeding and perforation (result of laxative use)

• Bruising easily

• Bradycardia (slow heart rate)

• Cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)

• Cardiac arrest

• Cathartic Colon (result of laxative use)

• Constipation

• Decreased heart mass and chamber size

• Decreased metabolic rate

• Decreased testicular function

• Dehydration

• Delayed gastric emptying (causes person to feel bloated and full after only a small meal or even a few bites)

• Dental decay and/or discoloration

• Depressed immune system

• Dizziness

• Dry skin, brittle hair and nails

• Edema (water retention, most common in ankles or feet)

• Electrolyte imbalances (can lead to cardiac arrhythmia and death)

• Endocrine abnormalities

• Esophagitis (painful swelling of the esophagus due to vomiting)

• Fainting

• Hiatal Hernias (effect of vomiting)

• High cholesterol (effect of starvation, low cholesterol diet not usually necessary)

• Hyperactivity

• Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

• Increased risk of osteoporosis (bones lose density and fracture easily)

• Insomnia

• Ketosis (excessive accumulation of ketone bodies in the blood and urine indicative of the body digesting its fat stores as a sole source of energy. Can be quite dangerous)

• Kidney damage or failure (usually the result of dehydration often worsened by diuretic use)

• Lanugo (fine downy hair on the body)

• Liver damage (condition that is irreparable, e.g. nutritional hepatitis)

• Loss of hair on the head

• Low blood pressure

• Low body temperature (causes person to feel cold easily)

• Malabsorption syndrome (small intestine becomes ineffective at absorbing vitamins and minerals)

• Muscle cramps and weakness (usually caused by electrolyte imbalances)

• Pancreatitis (painful swelling of the pancreas evidenced by severe abdominal pain, distension and fever)

• Reduced intestinal motility (result of laxative use)

• Sensitivity to light and sound

• Yellow skin (hypercarotinoma)


• Amenorrhea (loss of menstruation) and irregular menstruation (oligomenorrhea)

• Anemia

• Blistered esophagus

• Bloating due to gas

• Bowel infections (result of laxative or enema use)

• Bowel tumors

• Cardiac arrhythmia (heart beats too fast, too slow or lacks proper rhythm can lead to cardiac arrest and death)

• Cathartic Colon

• Constipation

• Decreased intestinal motility

• Dehydration

• Dental decay and or discoloration

• Diarrhea

• Dizziness

• Edema (water retention)

• Electrolyte imbalances (usually leads to cardiac arrhythmia)

• Endocrine abnormalities

• Esophageal tears (result of vomiting)

• Esophagitis (painful, swollen esophagus-result of vomiting)

• Gastric dilation and rupture

• Hiatal hernia

• Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

• Hair loss

• Kidney damage (result of dehydration and diuretic use)

• Liver damage (associated with ipecac use)

• Low blood pressure

• Malabsorption syndrome (small intestine becomes ineffective at absorbing vitamins and minerals)

• Malnutrition

• Metabolic abnormalities

• Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)

• Rectal burning/pain

• Salivary (especially the Parotids) gland enlargement and infection


• Arthritis

• Cardiac abnormalities and arrhythmia

• Diabetes

• Fatigue

• Gastric dilation and rupture

• Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

• Hiatal Hernia

• High Cholesterol

• Hypertension

• Insomnia or sleep deprivation

• Mobility problems

• Sciatica

• Sleep apnea (related to obesity)

• Varicose veins

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