What Are The Effects of Diuretic Misuse?

Diuretics are a class of drugs that promote diuresis, a process that increases the production and output of urine. The two most common ways to ingest a diuretic are via a medically prescribed pill or by drinking caffeinated beverages. Unfortunately, diuretic misuse is an increasingly common problem among people with eating disorders, especially people suffering from bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by binging and purging episodes.

What is Diuretic Misuse?

Because diuretics increase the amount of urine expelled by your body, people with eating disorders will often ingest large amounts of diuretics to temporarily increase the amount of water weight they lose on a daily basis.

While diuretic misuse can lead to quick weight loss, it’s important to remember that the effects are only temporary. In fact, long-term diuretic misuse can actually cause the body to retain more fluids, leading to bloating and weight gain. Unfortunately, people with eating disorders usually adjust for the short-term effectiveness of diuretics by cycling on/off and ingesting the drug multiple times in a day. For people with bulimia nervosa, diuretic abuse often replaces self-induced vomiting as a less detectable method of purging.

Effects of Diuretic Misuse?

Unsurprisingly, using diuretics as a purging tool is an extremely unhealthy practice. We’ve listed some of the most common side effects of diuretic abuse below:

  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Very low blood pressure
  • Kidney damage
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Hypokalemia
  • Hypernatremia

Diuretic Abuse vs Laxative Misuse

While they are both common methods of purging, diuretic abuse and laxative misuse are two very different things. People with bulimia nervosa use laxatives to force stimulation in their large intestine, leading to larger and more frequent bowel movements. Like diuretic abuse, frequent use of laxatives can lead to quick weight loss, severe dehydration, and critically low electrolyte levels.

Treatment Options for Diuretic Misuse

Diuretic abuse in people with bulimia nervosa is a symptom rather than a cause. The first step towards breaking the cycle of substance abuse and purging is reaching out to a medical professional. After your eating disorder has been diagnosed and your physical condition has been assessed, a medical professional will likely refer you to a team of specialists.

A specialized eating disorder team is usually made up of a doctor, a psychologist or therapist, a certified dietician, and a psychiatrist. The treatment programs provided by eating disorder teams are customized to each patient’s needs and typically include physical health monitoring, dietary therapy, mental health counseling, and nutritional education.

Sources: Eating Disorder Hope, Schoen Clinic, Mayo Clinic

Photo: Pexels

More Articles

The way a person conceptualizes their body image will have a major impact on their mental and physical health. In this article, we’re going to...

Anorexia nervosa is a dangerous type of eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of weight gain, extremely restrictive eating habits, and...

The first rule of eating disorders is not to talk about eating disorders—at least, that's what your eating disorder will tell you.

Many...

It may sound unbelievable, but people can suffer from a severe eating disorder and not even know it. You would think just looking in a mirror...

As the discussion around eating disorders becomes less and less taboo, a growing number of high-profile celebrities have begun to talk about their...

More Articles

More Articles

The way a person conceptualizes their body image will have a major impact on their mental and physical health. In this article, we’re going to...

Anorexia nervosa is a dangerous type of eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of weight gain, extremely restrictive eating habits, and...

The first rule of eating disorders is not to talk about eating disorders—at least, that's what your eating disorder will tell you.

Many...

It may sound unbelievable, but people can suffer from a severe eating disorder and not even know it. You would think just looking in a mirror...

As the discussion around eating disorders becomes less and less taboo, a growing number of high-profile celebrities have begun to talk about their...

It is hard for someone without an eating disorder to understand why someone suffering from anorexia nervosa would go without food. Most people...

What causes someone to develop an eating disorder? Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to answer this question. Stress, emotional trauma, cultural...

Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder characterized by recurrent binging and purging, a destructive cycle that often leaves bulimic...

Laxative abuse is a common practice among people struggling with eating disorders that involve purging, such as bulimia nervosa or anorexia...

Most people find holidays stressful, but the thought of facing holidays can be overwhelming for a person with an eating disorder. If a special day...

Even though most people have some awareness of bulimia, it’s important to remember that the signs and symptoms will often manifest themselves...

Susan Dey first rose to fame in her role as a charming, innocent looking girl named Laurie Partridge on ‘The Partridge Family’, a television...

Eating disorders often do more than just affect a person’s body weight. In extreme cases, disordered eating habits can cause severe malnutrition,...

Your metabolism is the many different chemical reactions that your body undergoes to sustain your life. One of the main functions of the...

When you start treatment for an eating disorder, one of the essential goals is to learn how to make good food choices. There are two common...