Bulimia signs and symptoms may include:
- Being preoccupied with your body shape and weight
- Living in fear of gaining weight
- Repeated episodes of eating abnormally large amounts of food in one sitting
- Feeling a loss of control during bingeing â like you can't stop eating or can't control what you eat
- Forcing yourself to vomit or exercising too much to keep from gaining weight after bingeing
- Using laxatives, diuretics or enemas after eating when they're not needed
- Fasting, restricting calories or avoiding certain foods between binges
- Using dietary supplements or herbal products excessively for weight loss
The severity of bulimia is determined by the number of times a week that you purge, usually at least once a week for at least three months.
When to see a doctor
If you have any bulimia symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible. If left untreated, bulimia can severely impact your health.
Talk to your primary care provider or a mental health professional about your bulimia symptoms and feelings. If you're reluctant to seek treatment, confide in someone about what you're going through, whether it's a friend or loved one, a teacher, a faith leader, or someone else you trust. He or she can help you take the first steps to get successful bulimia treatment.
Helping a loved one with bulimia symptoms
If you think a loved one may have symptoms of bulimia, have an open and honest discussion about your concerns. You can't force someone to seek professional care, but you can offer encouragement and support. You can also help find a qualified doctor or mental health professional, make an appointment, and even offer to go along.
Because most people with bulimia are usually normal weight or slightly overweight, it may not be apparent to others that something is wrong. Red flags that family and friends may notice include:
- Constantly worrying or complaining about being fat
- Having a distorted, excessively negative body image
- Repeatedly eating unusually large quantities of food in one sitting, especially foods the person would normally avoid
- Strict dieting or fasting after binge eating
- Not wanting to eat in public or in front of others
- Going to the bathroom right after eating, during meals or for long periods of time
- Exercising too much
- Having sores, scars or calluses on the knuckles or hands
- Having damaged teeth and gums
- Changing weight
- Swelling in the hands and feet
- Facial and cheek swelling from enlarged glands