Health Questions and Answers

Question: What are the physical consequences of bulimia?


Bulimia may lack social acceptability but the physical consequences are less extreme than anorexia. For one thing, bulimics rarely die from their disease. They show amenorrhea, fatigue, electrolyte abnormalities, and even cardiac arrhythmia, but the fatality rate is far less than that for anorexia. The consequences of vomiting include sore throats, esophagitis, swelling of the salivary glands, and dental decay from dietary habits as well as from the chronic vomiting.

At the extreme, gastric and esophageal injuries have been reported. Rupture of the esophagus with vomiting is known as Boerhaave’s syndrome. It was first described in a Dutch admiral of the 18th century, who died after vomiting up a large meal, rupturing his esophagus in the process. The point of rupture is always at or just above the esophago-gastric junction. A partial thickness tear in this area, involving only the mucosa, may produce life-threatening bleeding. This is called the Mallory- Weiss syndrome. Esophageal injury is a distinct risk for the bulimic patient.

One Response to “Question: What are the physical consequences of bulimia?”

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