Eating Disorders

Living at the Edge – Can Bulimia Cause Acid Reflux?

Bulimia (bulimia nervosa) is a psychological eating disorder whereby the subject

will eat large quantities of food and then purge what they have eaten from their

bodies. This desire to be rid of the food they have just eaten stems from a

persons self-image of themselves being either overweight or simply not thin

enough. First recognized as a serious medical condition in 1979 bulimia

continues to plague many people (mostly young women) all over the world. In

severe cases bulimia can prove to be fatal.

So how are bulimia and acid reflux related?

Well when a bulimic wants to purge

the food from their stomach they resort to either vomiting or using powerful

laxatives. The vomiting reflex is far more common as it provides them with an

immediate way to get rid of the food. This then allows them to binge again

shortly afterwards and then continue the purging process several times in a row.

The Potential For Damage

What most bulimics never stop to consider is the damage

they are doing to their body. When a person vomits food is not the only thing

forced through the esophagus – stomach acid is also present. Some bulimics can

binge and purge several times per day which means that their esophagus is

exposed to strong stomach acid over and over again. This continued exposure to

stomach acid can leave the esophagus raw and worn down. This can then lead to

one of the more serious diseases caused by acid reflux such as Barrets


How Bulimia Can Cause Heartburn

Another issue is that if you continually force

the body to produce extra stomach acid during these binge/purge phases then this

can form a “pattern” for the body. Your body can “learn” to expect certain

situations to occur and if you get it into the habit then it will produce more

stomach acid than it actually needs on an ongoing basis. This will then lead to

acid reflux which, of course, will just make a bulimics life far worse. Vomiting

will then become extremely painful.

Other Complications

Acid reflux is not the only problem that can arise from

bulimia. If the body is starved of proper nutrients then organs can start to

slow down and malnutrition can set in. This leads the bulimic into a further

psychological downward spiral whereby the bingeing/purging process can actually

increase in frequency and severity. Severe bulimia can result in death but this

is often very hard to explain to anybody with an eating disorder.

Is There Hope?

Bulimia can be treated but it’s a two-part process. Firstly

medication will need to be prescribed to prevent vomiting and promote a healthy

and constant appetite in the sufferer. Far more serious are the emotional issues

that cause bulimia in the first place. Any person with an eating disorder should

also receive psychological therapy as part of their healing process. Trained

counsellors can get to the root of the problem if you will let them. Bulimics who

do not take part in the psychological healing process often run the risk of

simply getting into the same old habits all over again.

If you can categorize yourself as a bulimic then it’s time to stop and take a

quick review of your life. Do you really want to cause harm to your body? Why

would you deliberately go about causing yourself potentially permanent pain?

With the right help you can have a second chance at life and really enjoy your

life too.

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