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What Really Are Eating Disorders by Amanda Cobet

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Etiology: Eating disorders are serious conditions in which patients are overly concerned on food, weight and self-image.  A few of the many eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating. Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder in which patients have intense fears of gaining weight. They limit the amount of food they ingest, therefore become extremely thin and unhealthy.  Most patients become so thin it becomes dangerous to their health.  This disorder affects both the mind and the body.  It may start out as an innocent diet, but gets out of control.  The mind continually obsesses about dieting and body weight. Although the patient is dangerously underweight, they see themselves as extremely overweight.

Some of the signs and symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa are the patients are afraid of gaining weight. They refuse to stay at a normal weight and think they are extremely obese. The patient will strictly limit how much they eat, exercise an excessive amount, and even starve themselves. They will use laxatives and/or vomit to lose weight. Some other symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa are loss of menstruation, fatigue, dizziness, fainting, and dehydration. Some emotional symptoms are irritability, depression, denial of hunger and social withdrawal. The only preventative care for a patient that shows these signs and symptoms is to get help from a medical doctor to prevent further damage to help the patient maintain a healthy weight. Some of the treatment options for Anorexia Nervosa are learning healthy eating habits and learning how to feel good about themselves and image. Treatment with a dietitian or counselor will help the patient overcome anorexia and live a healthy life.

Bulimia Nervosa is another eating disorder in which patients eat large amounts of food in a short period of time.  They will then rid the body of the food such as, vomit, exercise too intensely, and/or use laxatives.  People who have Bulimia may binge because food makes them feel good or is comfort to them.  After binging they feel guilty and ashamed so they rid the body of the newly ingested food.

Some of the signs and symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa are binging on a regular basis, purging to get rid of the food and avoid weight gain. Patients will also base how they feel about themselves on how much they weigh and how they look.  Bulimia can be treated with psychological counseling and sometimes the use of medications such as antidepressants. The sooner the treatment is started the better.  There are many preventative methods people should be aware of. If the patient goes to the bathroom right after meals, overeats but never gains weight, is secretive about eating or does not like eating around people. They might often talk about dieting, weight, and body shape, or use laxatives or diuretics often.  Once these signs and symptoms have been observed get the patient help as soon as possible.

Lastly, Binge eating is a compulsive overeating disorder.  Patients with this disorder use food as a way to cope with unwanted emotions or stress. Some of the signs and symptoms include patients eating an extremely large amount of food within a two hour period at least two times a week on average for at least six months.  They also feel unable to control how much they eat during a binge and feel very unhappy about binging.  They eat very quickly when on a binge and eat until they are painfully full. Some treatment options for Binge eating are improve healthy eating habits, develop a plan for eating a balanced diet with help from a dietitian. Also getting out and exercising will help keep the extra binged weight off. The only preventative care is if binge eating disorder is suspected, take the patient to a medical physician who will begin an evaluation and perform a complete medical history and physical exam.



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