Eating disorders mainly refer to abnormal eating habits. It can be insufficient or excessive intake of food linking to
individual physical and mental health. Binge eating is the most common term used in relation with eating disorders. Bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are two other kinds of eating disorders. These problems are spreading all over the world not only affecting females but males as well. Population in western countries is at a higher risk of developing eating disorders.
A changing lifestyle or westernization is the main cause of the condition. Exact path physiology is not known, but brainmedical conditions are considered responsible. Biological, psychological or environmental conditions may lead to development of eating disorder. Biochemical reactions involving neurotransmitters have some effect in eating pattern in humans. Serotonin has an inhibitory reaction. Studies suggest that people suffering from anorexia and bulimia have elevated levels of auto antibodies that affect appetite regulation in body. Eating disorders may appear in teenage or young adulthood, but can also be present since childhood. There is one more condition associated called as eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). This condition does not meet criteria for anorexia or bulimia. Generally people suffering from EDNOS get treatment.
In Anorexia nervosa, person becomes too thin, but not eating well thinking he / she is fat; While Bulimia involves over eating followed by purging or vomiting out the food. It involves self induced vomiting or taking laxatives. Women are more prone to develop this condition than men. It can start at a young age or teenage. Anxiety, substance abuse, depression are seen along with this. This can harm the heart, kidney due to improper eating habits. Getting help at right time is considerably important. Anorexic person looks too thin, has fear of gaining weight, lack of menstrual cycle in girls and extremely restricted eating habits. Some people recover after treatment for disorder, in some cases relapse is seen.
Following conditions/symptoms can develop over the period of time of the disorder:
- Thinning of bones
- Brittle nails, damaged hairs
- Drop in body temperature
- Lethargy, sluggishness, low concentration
- Dehydration due to purging food.
- Electrolyte imbalance
Treating eating disorders helps in managing these symptoms. Incorporating adequate nutrition, stopping binge eating and reducing excessive exercise are the foundations of such treatments. Psychological counseling also makes a lot of difference for the patients. In some cases hospitalization is required to cure malnutrition and the severe conditions developed.
It is important to provide treatment at the right time. Eating disorder may result in death or other serious health conditions. Family members and care takers in a home can help an individual in overcoming the condition.
As studies suggest, binge eating is more common in today’s time. Craze of dieting and weight loss can lead to eating disorders and binge eating. Be alert and identify faulty eating for health concerns.