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Understanding eating disorders
An eating disorder is a sickness that comes as a result of irregular eating habits that negatively affects your health, emotions, and ability to function properly. In most cases, eating disorders involve focusing on body weight, food, and shape that lead to irregular eating behaviors. The behaviors affect your body leading to decreased ability to get the right nutrition. These disorders can harm any part of your body including your heart, bones, digestive system, teeth, and can also lead to other diseases.
Eating disorders are common with teens and young adults even though they can also affect people of other ages. Although eating disorders can be treated, the consequences and symptoms of these disorders can be fatal if not addressed in the right way.
Types of eating disorders
There are three main types of eating disorders which include:
Anyone suffering from anorexia nervosa will have an excessive fear of gaining weight, refusing to maintain healthy body weight, and can have a bad perception of their body image. People with this condition will limit the amount of food they eat at a particular time because they see themselves as overweight even when they are underweight. Anorexia can have effects such as organ failure, brain damage, infertility, and heart problems.
This is another eating disorder that is characterized by a huge consumption of feed, followed by forced vomiting or too much exercise to compensate for overeating. People suffering from this disease fear excessive body weight gain, and in most cases are never happy with their body size. Bulimia has effects such as heart problems, excessive dehydration, and gastrointestinal problems.
Binge eating disorder
People suffering from this disorder often lose control of their eating. Binge eating disorder is not followed by any compensatory behavior like bulimia. This, therefore, leads to an increased risk of obesity and other conditions such as cardiovascular diseases. People suffering from this disease may not be comfortable with themselves and may feel embarrassed with their bodies.
Eating disorders are associated more with young women, even though their male counterparts can have eating disorders as well. The main factors that increase the risk of getting eating disorders are:
- Stress – Stress can increase your chances of eating disorders. Whether it is moving out, getting a new job, or even relationship problems. Anything that can increase your stress levels can be dangerous.
- Family history – Eating disorders may happen to people who have had parents or relatives who have suffered from the same disease.
- Mental disorders – People with other mental disorders such as anxiety or depression have a higher risk of developing eating disorders.
- Dieting - Dieting is a factor to be considered in eating disorders. There is evidence that some symptoms of eating disorders match those of starvation.
Signs and symptoms of eating disorders
- Sudden weight fluctuations
- Engaging in eating patterns can be termed as ritualistic such as eating alone or cutting food into small pieces.
- Obsession with certain types of foods such as calories.
- Becoming withdrawn and avoiding functions that involve family
- Sudden switch between periods of overeating and fasting
Treatment of eating disorders
Because of the severity of the conditions associated with eating disorders, specialized treatment is often required. Treatment includes:
- Nutrition – this involves the restoration of weight and stabilization.
- Therapy – Different forms of therapy can be essential in addressing eating disorders. It helps in dealing with communication, emotional issues, and maintaining good relationships.
- Medical care and monitoring – The biggest issue in treating eating disorders is dealing with the health issues which come up as a result of eating disorders.
- Medications – Even though there is no specific medication for eating disorders, some medications can be effective in solving anxiety and other complications associated with eating disorders.
When to see a doctor
Eating disorders are very hard to manage. Without knowing, they can easily control your life. If you experience any eating patterns which are affecting you and your weight, then it is important to visit a doctor. More to that, if you have any of the related risk factors which you think can lead to the disorder, you can ask for help to know how to manage yourself and your eating patterns.