Anorexia nervosa — often simply called anorexia — is an disorder characterized by an abnormally low weight , an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight. People with anorexia place a high value on controlling their weight and shape, using extreme efforts that tend to significantly interfere with their lives.
To prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia usually severely restrict the quantity of food they eat. They may control calorie intake by vomiting after eating or by misusing laxatives, diet aids, diuretics or enemas. They may also try to lose weight by exercising excessively. No matter what proportion weight is lost, the person continues to fear weight gain.
Anorexia isn't really about food. It's a particularly unhealthy and sometimes life-threatening thanks to attempt to deal with emotional problems. When you have anorexia, you regularly equate thinness with self-worth.
Anorexia, like other eating disorders, can take over your life and may be very difficult to beat . But with treatment, you'll gain a far better sense of who you're , return to healthier eating habits and reverse a number of anorexia's serious complications.
The physical signs and symptoms of anorexia are associated with starvation. Anorexia also includes emotional and behavioral issues involving an unrealistic perception of weight and a particularly strong fear of gaining weight or becoming fat.
It may be difficult to note signs and symptoms because what's considered a coffee weight is different for every person, and a few individuals might not appear extremely thin. Also, people with anorexia often disguise their thinness, eating habits or physical problems.
Physical signs and symptoms of anorexia may include:
Ø Extreme weight loss or not making expected developmental weight gains
Ø Thin appearance
Ø Abnormal blood counts
Ø Dizziness or fainting
Ø Bluish discoloration of the fingers
Ø Hair that thins, breaks or falls out
Ø Soft, downy hair covering the body
Ø Absence of menstruation
Ø Constipation and abdominal pain
Ø Dry or yellowish skin
Ø Intolerance of cold
Ø Irregular heart rhythms
Ø Low blood pressure
Ø Swelling of arms or legs
Ø Eroded teeth and calluses on the knuckles from induced vomiting
Some people that have anorexia binge and purge, almost like individuals who have bulimia. But people with anorexia generally struggle with an abnormally low weight , while individuals with bulimia typically are normal to above normal weight.
Emotional and behavioral symptoms
Behavioral symptoms of anorexia may include attempts to reduce by:
Ø Severely restricting food intake through dieting or fasting
Ø Exercising excessively
Ø Frequently skipping meals or refusing to eat
Ø Denial of hunger or making excuses for not eating
Ø Eating only a few certain "safe" foods, usually those low in fat and calories
Ø Adopting rigid meal or eating rituals, such as spitting food out after chewing
Ø Not wanting to eat in public
Ø Lying about how much food has been eaten
Ø Fear of gaining weight that may include repeated weighing or measuring the body
Ø Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws
Ø Complaining about being fat or having parts of the body that are fat
Ø Covering up in layers of clothing
Ø Flat mood (lack of emotion)
Ø Social withdrawal
Ø Reduced interest in sex
When to see a doctor
Unfortunately, many of us with anorexia don't need treatment, a minimum of initially. Their desire to stay thin overrides concerns about their health. If you have a loved one you're worried about, urge her or him to talk to a doctor.
If you're experiencing any of the problems listed above, or if you think you may have an eating disorder, get help. If you're hiding your anorexia from loved ones, try to find a person you trust to talk to about what's going on.
The exact cause of anorexia is unknown. As with many diseases, it's probably a mixture of biological, psychological and environmental factors.
Ø Biological - Although it's not yet clear which genes are involved, there may be genetic changes that make some people at higher risk of developing anorexia. Some people may have a genetic tendency toward perfectionism, sensitivity and perseverance — all traits associated with anorexia.
Ø Psychological - Some people with anorexia may have personality traits that make it easier to stay to strict diets and forgo food despite being hungry. They may have an extreme drive for perfectionism, which causes them to think they're never thin enough. And they may have high levels of hysteria and have interaction in restrictive eating to scale back it.
Ø Environmental - Modern Western culture emphasizes thinness. Success and price are often equated with being thin. Peer pressure may help fuel the will to be thin, particularly among young girls.
There's no guaranteed way to prevent anorexia nervosa. Primary care physicians (pediatricians, family physicians and internists) could also be during a good position to spot early indicators of anorexia and stop the event of full-blown illness. For instance, they will ask questions on eating habits and satisfaction with appearance during routine medical appointments.
If you notice that a loved one or friend has low self-esteem, severe dieting habits and dissatisfaction with appearance, consider lecture him or her about these issues. Although you'll not be ready to prevent an disorder from developing, you'll mention healthier behavior or treatment options.
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