10 Health Conditions Caused by Eating Disorders

In the U.S., at least 30 million people are living with an eating disorder. This includes men, women, and children of varying ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. These conditions are especially dangerous because they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

The most prominent types of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge-eating Disorder. Each one presents its own challenges and negative side effects.

Additionally, eating disorders can lead to resulting health conditions, like the 10 listed here.

  1.  Bone Loss: Low bone density can be caused by insufficient calcium and vitamin D, as well as hormone fluctuations. This can eventually lead to osteoporosis, in which bones become weak and porous.
  2. Anemia – Anemia is characterized by a lack of iron or low red blood cells. The latter of which are responsible for transporting oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the body. Without them, individuals may experience severe organ damage.
  3. Throat and Teeth Decay – When purging, both food and stomach acid are expelled. The acid coats the esophagus causing soreness and inflammation. It can also destroy enamel, stain teeth, and cause gum disease.
  4. Gastrointestinal Issues – Digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, and bloating are linked to excessive vomiting or the abuse of laxatives. Individuals may also develop gall stones, acid reflux disorder and peptic ulcers– lesions or sores found on the stomach lining or small intestine.
  5. Hypertension/High Cholesterol – Bingeing on foods high in fat and sodium can elevate blood pressure and cholesterol. Both put unnecessary strain on the heart, increasing the risk of an attack.
  6. Heart Damage – Eating disorders have a dramatic effect on cardiovascular health. Those with anorexia experience significant fat and muscle loss–including the heart. This can lead to a slow or irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and heart failure.
  7. Infertility – An unhealthy diet, coupled with excessive weight loss or gain may hinder reproductive health. Eating disorders can disrupt menstrual cycles, prevent conception, and reduce testosterone causing sexual dysfunction.
  8. Kidney Failure –The overuse of diuretics leads to an electrolyte imbalance and prolonged dehydration. Both are contributing factors to kidney failure, which will require dialysis or a transplant.
  9. Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Obese and morbidly obese individuals are at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea. Most sufferers are unaware they have the condition in which breathing intermittently stops due to blocked airflow.
  10. Fatigue – An extremely low-calorie diet can lead to an overall lack of energy. This constant tiredness diminishes motivation and interferes with your ability to complete normal tasks.

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Photo credit: nensuria

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