Do you know which illness affects 1 in every 5 women and over a million men every day? If you said eating disorders, you are correct. According to the Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, these scary illnesses affect about 70 million people worldwide. The two most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. These disorders are very serious and can even be life threatening. It is important to seek help if you, or a friend, have an eating disorder.
How can you tell if someone has anorexia or bulimia? There are many signs associated with eating disorders. A person may have anorexia or bulimia if they show dramatic weight loss in a short period of time, obsess about their weight, obsess about diet and exercise, and even isolate themselves from others. Some signs specific to anorexia are refusing to eat, having an intense fear of gaining weight, distorted self-image, rough skin, and excessively exercising. Signs indicating bulimia include eating to the point of discomfort, self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives, going to the bathroom after or during meals, and damaged teeth and gums. If you suspect someone you know has an eating disorder, reach out and help them.
Anorexia and bulimia are extremely serious disorders that break down the body and can lead to death. Sadly, many people affected do not get help in time. The website, dailymail.co.uk reported an unfortunate story about a 15 year old girl who suffered with anorexia nervosa. Anna Wood began a post-Christmas diet that quickly became starvation. She hid the disease from her family, but when the school nurse noticed something was wrong, Anna was taken to the hospital for the first time. After a short time she was released, but continued to starve herself and sometimes make herself sick. She became even sneakier with food, hiding it up her sleeves and throwing it out later. Then, one day she collapsed on the way to her job. Doctors had to operate on Anna’s perforated ulcer; however they were worried that her body was too weak to survive. Quickly after surgery, Anna’s body began failing due to the damaged caused by her anorexia. At age 16 her body was unable to heal, her organs collapsed, and tragically she died of a heart attack. There are many other heartbreaking stories about the dangers of eating disorders. It is a very mental and emotional illness that cannot be ignored. If you struggle with an eating disorder, or if you suspect someone you know of having an eating disorder, do not hesitate to seek help from a parent, teacher, or nurse. You may save a life.