Muscle Atrophy: A Dangerous Side Effect of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are the most deadly of all psychological disorders. Ginging, purging, and starving oneself can have multiple effects on the body. Some of these effects can do lasting damage—or may even be fatal.

One potentially deadly side effect of eating disorders is muscle atrophy. If you are a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, you need to be aware of muscle atrophy and the danger it poses.

What Is Muscle Atrophy?

A lack of physical activity usually causes muscle atrophy. From lack of use, the muscle may get weaker and lose muscle mass. Typically, people in danger of suffering from muscle atrophy include those who are bedridden, paralyzed, or in a coma. It's what happens when your muscles begin to waste away literally.

Another form of muscle atrophy is usually caused by disease or nerve damage that weakens the muscles. This type of atrophy is even more serious and causes the muscle can deteriorate more rapidly.

Eating Disorders and Muscle Atrophy

People with eating disorders may suffer from muscle atrophy due to being malnourished. When the body isn't getting enough food, it has nothing to convert into fuel. Once stored energy (fat) is gone, the body has no choice but to feed on itself—it begins breaking down its own muscle tissue to convert to fuel to survive.

As the body continues to do this, the muscles get weaker and lose more muscle mass, leaving a person more susceptible to disease and injury.

Why Muscle Atrophy Can Be Deadly

Muscle atrophy poses a major health risk because it can do severe damage to the most important muscle in your body: your heart. The longer a person with an eating disorder goes without treatment, the more severe the damage may get.

When the heart muscle loses mass and becomes damaged, the heart walls will thin, and the valves may have trouble closing. The vital organ will have a harder time doing its job: pumping blood throughout the body to distribute nutrients and oxygen.

Get Help

Even teens and young adults with an eating disorder are at an increased risk of heart attacks. The most common causes of death for people with eating disorders are heart-related. This is why it's so essential for a person suffering from an eating disorder to get help before it's too late.

Getting treatment and renourishing the body may be able to help reverse some of the damage and lead to recuperation. The sooner one does this, the better their chances of survival.

Sources: EmpowHer, Healthline

Photo: Pixabay

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