Bulimia Side Effects And Complications: Short And Long Term Effects

Bulimia is a type of eating disorder. People suffering from it, have tendency to eat large quantity of food at one time, after which they expel it either by vomiting or by taking laxatives and diuretics. They do it when they are alone, or rather secretly. Eating disorders are common among women.

Many young women are obsessed of being thin and shapely models. This leads to development of eating disorder such as bulimia. Psychological issues pertaining to stress and personal family problems can also trigger bulimia condition.

It is very difficult to identify a person who is suffering from bulimia, because she usually maintains a normal weight, and she does not reveal her eating habits to others.

Some of the signs of bulimia are: eating abnormally, pain in stomach, soreness in jaw, repeatedly visiting bathroom to throw up, eating large amount of food at one sitting, eat alone, exercises for hours together, moody and use of laxatives. Purging and binging is often accompanied by the feeling of guilt and low self esteem.

Complications And Side Effects Of Bulimia

Bulimia is not only a serious and debilitating condition, but the side effects resulting from this eating disorder are also devastating. They can cause many serious complications.

Physical problems:

  • Injury to vocal cord.
  • Esophagus injury.
  • Digestive disturbances.
  • Pain in abdomen.
  • Hair loss.
  • Gastric ulcers and mouth ulcers.
  • Destruction of dental enamel.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • Deficiency of vitamins and minerals.
  • Stoppage of menses since two to three months.
  • Dry skin and brittle nails.
  • Insomnia.
  • Anemia.
  • Low immunity with repeated infections.
  • Enlargement of salivary glands which lead to swelling of face.
  • Electrolyte imbalance which can affect kidney and heart.
  • Scared and callous hands.
  • Dizziness at the time of purging.
  • Irregular bowel movements.


  • Always preoccupied with food.
  • Likes to eat alone.
  • Depression.
  • Low self esteem.
  • Moody.
  • Withdrawal from social surrounding.
  • Apathy.

Abuse of laxatives can cause chronic constipation and chronic inflammation of the intestine.

Abuse of diuretics may lead to salt depletion as well as its imbalance.

Damage to kidney and blood pressure fluctuations may be present in bulimia patient.

Long Term And Short Term Effects Of Bulimia

There are many long term side effects of Bulimia. Some of the health consequences may continue for many years.

  • Psychological effect: ┬ámost people suffering from bulimia are known to suffer from depression. Since they feel ashamed of their behavior, there is a strong suicidal tendency. Swinging mood is a common feature among bulimics. Person resorts to drug and alcohol abuse. Person becomes withdrawn from the social life, does not mix with others. Constantly feels guilty.
  • Use of excessive laxative can lead to chronic constipation. Other side effects include gases and bloating of abdomen.
  • Frequent induced vomiting brings acid content in the esophagus and the mouth. This leads to ulcer in the esophagus and oral cavity.
  • The acid content can also damage dental enamel. The gums become sensitive to hot and cold food.
  • Hoarseness of voice as a result of damage to the vocal cord is also a long term effect of persistent vomiting.
  • Other long term gastrointestinal problem includes hemorrhoids.
  • Brittle bones, osteoporosis, tingling numbness due to vitamin deficiency, infertility, are few other long term side effects that needs to be looked at when a person suffers from bulimia.

Bulimia Short Term Effects

Unlike long term side effects, these short term side effects may come and go. There is also a possibility of some of them becoming long term irreversible side effects if not treated.

  • Bad taste in mouth.
  • Pain in abdomen.
  • Reflux esophagitis.
  • Dizziness.
  • Frequent change in mood.
  • Insomnia.
  • Painful menses.
  • Swollen cheeks.
  • Red and puffy eyes.
  • Skin, nails and hair turn brittle and dry.