Bulimia is an eating problem that causes your child to binge, which means she eats large amounts of food in a short time without being able to stop. The amount of food is much more than most people would eat at one time. Your child may then purge, which is getting rid of the food and fluids by making herself vomit or using laxatives, water pills or enemas. Your child may also cut back on eating or exercise too much to make up for binging.
Most people with bulimia have a normal weight but feel they cannot control their eating. Your child may go back and forth between anorexia and bulimia. If your child has anorexia, she sees herself as being overweight when she is not. Your child is so afraid of becoming overweight that she eats as little as possible.
Although the disorder can affect males, most people with bulimia are girls.
The exact cause of bulimia is not known. It may be related to problems with the chemicals in the brain that regulate mood and appetite.
Your child may be at risk of developing bulimia if she:
In addition to binging and purging, the signs and symptoms of bulimia include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. He will ask about your child’s eating habits and other behaviors.
Bulimia does not go away or get better on its own. Treatment involves learning healthy eating habits. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you meet with a dietitian to create a healthy eating plan. Your child may need therapy to help change how she thinks about herself and food. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a way to help your child identify and change views your child has of herself, the world, and the future. CBT can make your child aware of unhealthy ways of thinking. It can also help your child learn new thought and behavior patterns.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to help reduce constant thoughts about food. Medicines that help reduce depression and anxiety may help bulimia
Your child may need to be hospitalized if her condition is severe and life threatening. Vomiting or using laxatives too often can cause an imbalance of minerals in your child’s body that may lead to irregular heartbeats, heart failure, and death.
If your child has bulimia, she may think constantly about eating for many years. Your child may need to continue treatment for many months. Being under a lot of stress can cause the symptoms to get worse. The earlier your child gets treatment, the more successful it is likely to be.
Don’t criticize your child’s weight or tease your child about the way she looks. Praise your child for her efforts. Also point out to your child that you appreciate other people for what they do rather than how they look.
Ask your child if she is feeling suicidal or has done anything to hurt herself. Get emergency care if your child has ideas of suicide or harming others or harming herself.
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