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Symptoms of Bulimia

bulimia symptoms

Symptoms of bulimia, which is binge-eating followed by self-induced vomiting or the use of laxatives, are numerous.

If possible, people who suffer from bulimia should seek treatment well before the presence of all of these symptoms of bulimia as the disease can cause permanent physical damage.

Physiological Symptoms of Bulimia

  • Person may be under-, over-, or normal weight
  • Swollen glands, puffiness in the cheeks, or broken vessels under the eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue and muscle ache
  • Unexplained tooth decay
  • Frequent weight fluctuations
  • Electrolyte imbalance which can lead to irregular heartbeat, and in some cases, heart attack.

Behavioral Symptoms of Bulimia

  • Secretive eating (missing food)
  • Avoidance of restaurants, planned meals or social events if food is present
  • Self-disgust when too much has been eaten
  • Bathroom visits after meals
  • The use of diet pills
  • Rigid and harsh exercise regimes
  • Fear of being fat, regardless of weight
  • Bingeing that may alternate with fasting
  • Preoccupation / constant talk about food or weight
  • Vomiting and laxative use
  • Shoplifting (sometimes food or laxatives)

Attitude Shifts and Symptoms of Bulimia

  • Mood shifts including depression, sadness, guilt, and self-hate
  • Severe self-criticism
  • The need for approval
  • Self-worth determined by weight
  • Feeling out of control

Bulimia can be hidden

Bulimia can be hidden from others, since bulimics appear to be within a normal weight range. The binge/purge episodes may be a few times a week or several times a day. Physical complications include dental problems, swelling of the parotid glands, digestive problems, and electrolyte imbalance.


  • "Surviving an Eating Disorder," Siegel. M. et al (1988). Harper and Row and from American Anorexia Bulimia Association, Facts on Eating Disorders.

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