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Eating Disorders

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Mostly Young Women Are Prone to This Sometimes Deadly Condition

Eating disorder statistics show that 70 million people are affected world wide and that 24 million of those are Americans. Statistics are extremely lopsided in regards to gender and eating disorders since only 1% of all people afflicted by them are men. The disorder also tends to hit younger people, 90% are between the ages of 12- 25 years old. Recent statistics in other countries show that 200,0000 Canadian women ages 14-40 years old are afflicted. In the UK 1 in 50 middle school girls suffer from eating disorders. The statistics are sad but true but what exactly are these eating disorders? I will explain in my article.

Eating Disorders: Anatomy of a Multifaceted Illness

There are many different behaviors that can be thrown into the term eating disorder. Bulimia is an eating disorder where people eat vast amounts of food, often referred to as binging and then force their body get rid of the food, otherwise known as purging.  Purging is often accomplished by throwing up, taking laxatives, or water pills. Sometimes they will exercise excessively to burn up calories. Although no one knows what causes this decidedly extreme habitual behavior, some ideas include extreme desire for a very skinny physique, altered brain chemicals, inherited predispositions, stress, anger, depression,  low self esteem, traumatic or life altering events, and sometimes hormonal imbalance.  Often times a person acts out because the person sees themselves as fat while other times it is a way to get control or relieve emotions.Bulimic tendencies or symptoms of bulimia include extreme dieting, abusing laxatives or water pills, going to the bathroom immediately after eating or over exercising. Some physical signs of bulimia include swollen jaw or cheeks, broken blood vessels in the eyes, clear teeth and rough skin on the hands. Without treatment, the afflicted will contract many problems caused by bulimia, such as cavities, tooth decay, dehydration, stomach ulcers, ruptured stomach, ruptured esophagus, irregular heart rate, heart attack and death. Eating disorder treatment would include monitoring progress, therapy, medications and nutritional assistance. Treatment should continue during stressful times when symptoms can return.

Anorexia is another eating disorder where people simply starve themselves. This disorder affects mostly adolescent girls and people whose jobs require them to be fit and thin such as dancers, runners, models and actors. One cause of anorexia is poor body image. They are afraid of becoming fat so they don't eat, saying they are not hungry or refuse to eat in public places. When they do eat it will be foods low in calories and fats. People with anorexia will cut food in small bites, spitting it out after they chew. They sometimes will make a meal for someone but will refuse to eat. Symptoms of anorexia include weighing themselves often wearing multi layers or baggy cloths, talking about how fat they are, exercise to extremes, problems concentrating, and always worrying about consumed calories. Some physical symptoms of anorexia include body weight anywhere over 15% below the average normal, not growing normally, missing more than three periods in a row, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness, fainting, weakness, difficulty breathing, fragile skin, bone shrinkage, body temperature below normal, irregular heart beat, osteoporosis, abnormal labs, dehydration, thin hair, brittle nails, dry skin, constipation, irregular heart rate, and low blood pressure. Anorexia treatment would include medical monitoring of vital signs, labs, therapy, nutritional assistance and medication. In extreme cases hospitalization may be required.

There are ways to help someone with a eating disorder. They would include talking to your friend in a quiet place away from distractions. Tell them about your concerns, and that maybe they should go see a doctor. If your friend does not see a problem ensure them that you will be there no matter what.

Eating disorders have increased tremendously over the last few years, over 25%, but there is still hope. Eating disorder statistics show that 60% of people with eating problems recover with treatment. If you or your loved one has this illness seek medical help now, before they become another statistic. Like the other 50,000 who have died from this life threatening disorder.

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