Treatment for Eating Disorders
By Peter SamsMany people worry about their weight, what they eat, and how they look. This is especially true for teenagers and young adults, who face extra pressure to fit in and look attractive at a time when their bodies are changing.
In the early stages, it can be challenging to tell the difference between an eating disorder and normal self-consciousness, weight concerns, or dieting. As eating disorders progress, the red flags become easier to spot. But a person with an eating disorder will often go to great lengths to hide the problem, so it's important to know the warning signs.
Medical complications can frequently be a result of eating disorders. Individuals with eating disorders who use drugs to stimulate vomiting, bowel movements, or urination may be in considerable danger, because this practice increases the risk of heart failure.
In patients with anorexia, starvation can damage vital organs such as the brain and heart. To protect itself, the body shifts into "slow gear": monthly menstrual periods stop, breathing pulse and blood pressure rates drop, and thyroid function slows. Nails and hair become brittle; the skin dries, yellows, and becomes covered with soft hair called lanugo. Excessive thirst and frequent urination may occur. Dehydration contributes to constipation, and reduced body fat leads to lowered body temperature and the inability to withstand cold.