19 Bulimia Side Effects You Have to Know

In recent years, eating disorders have begun receiving significant concern and attention. Is someone you know suffering from an eating disorder? Here are some bulimia side effects to look out for.

While there are many eating disorders that can have an adverse effect on physical and mental health, bulimia can be a uniquely debilitating condition to deal with.

As many nutritionists and wellness experts know, bulimia can have a wide range of side effects that preclude the sufferer from maintaining a productive, positive life.

To learn more about this condition and the side effects it can cause, be sure to read the brief overview that appears below.

Bulimia: Defining The Term

Bulimia is an eating disorder that involves consuming large volumes of food in a short period of time. After eating a large quantity of food, individuals struggling with bulimia will oftentimes vomit, purge, or fast in an attempt to avoid weight gain. Bulimics oftentimes experience a distorted body image that provokes feelings of shame or guilt regarding their physical appearance.

Side Effects Of Bulimia

As many nutritionists know, bulimia can have a plethora of undesirable side effects.


Many nutritionists believe the most dangerous side effect of bulimia is dehydration. The dehydration results from purging activity following consumption of a large meal.

Electrolyte Imbalance

Another debilitating side effect of bulimia is electrolyte imbalance. The electrolyte imbalances oftentimes result from the vomiting, diuretics, and laxatives used to rid the body of food. Typically, the electrolyte balance manifests with low potassium levels. Some of the symptoms that result from potassium level drops include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Cloudy thinking
  • Lethargy

Consistently low potassium levels can also precipitate kidney failure.

More Bulimia Side Effects

There are a plethora of other health-compromising side effects that result from bulimia. Some of them include:

Weight gain

Weight gain is a side effect of bulimia that results from the combination of overeating and subsequently throwing up. Even though the bulimic throws up after eating, only about 50% of the meal is being vomited. The rest of the food is digested and oftentimes stored as fat.


Dizziness is a common side effect of bulimia and it can surface for many reasons. One of the reasons is that overeating and throwing up food regularly can cause dehydration, a psychosomatic state that can lead to dizziness.

Chronic Constipation

Individuals who struggle with bulimia will often experience chronic constipation. In many cases, the constipation stems from the use of laxatives to stimulate bowel movements. Repeated laxative use disrupts normal bowel function, causing the body to become dependent upon a synthetic substance to precipitate the bowel movement. Thus if the bulimic stops using the laxative regularly, constipation can become a regular occurrence.

Tooth Decay

Many bulimics experience tooth decay. The tooth decay results from exposure to stomach acids during the process of regurgitating food.

Loss Of Menstrual Period

Many bulimics cease menstruating. The loss of menstrual period results from the fact that it is very difficult for bulimics to attain the vitamins and minerals necessary to facilitate hormonal balance. In addition to complicating the digestion process through overeating, bulimics preclude the breakdown and utilization of nutrients by throwing their meals up. Additionally, bulimics often overeat foods that are unhealthy, and these items are nutritionally vacuous. Therefore, the nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances precipitated by bulimic behavior can lead to loss of menstrual period.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a bodily complication that results from the upper gastrointestinal tract being exposed to acidic gastric contents. The exposure can adversely affect the pharynx and/or esophagus. The symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, regurgitation, chest pain, belching, acidic taste, bad breath, and difficulty swallowing. Bulimics frequently experience acid reflux because the regurgitation of food exposes the upper body to the acidic contents of the stomach.


People with bulimia commonly experience depression. One reason is that the constant cycle of overeating and purging promotes an unhealthy mental and physical state. In many cases, the bulimic is aware that their behavior is counterproductive and life-endangering, yet cannot seem to stop harming the body. This awareness that one is participating in life-threatening behaviors can facilitate depression.

Some Additional Side Effects Of Bulimia

The aforementioned list documents and explains only a few of the many side effects that an individual with bulimia can experience. Several others include:

  • Swelling of the feet and hands
  • Abdominal pain and/or bloating
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Swollen salivary glands and cheeks
  • Broken blood vessels in the eyes
  • Weakness
  • Mouth sores
  • Ulcers
  • Ruptured esophagus or stomach


If you or someone you love is struggling with bulimia, it is important to note that help is available. To begin leading a more productive and positive life, be sure to contact a medical official for diagnosis and treatment.

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