Long-Term Effects of Eating Disorders on Physical Health

Long-Term Effects of Eating Disorders on Physical Health

Long -Term Effects of Eating Disorders on Physical Health

Last updated date : March 29, 2022

Eating disorders are defined by a preoccupation with food, eating, and body image. People who suffer from an eating disorder often have an extreme fear of gaining weight. They see themselves as fat, even though they may be severely underweight. Because of their extreme fear of weight gain, people with eating disorders do not eat as normal. Some avoid or restrict food intake. Others eat large amounts of food in a short time, and then may try to get rid of that food by vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or exercising a lot. Many people with eating disorders also struggle with a lot of negative feelings and poor self-esteem. In addition to these symptoms, eating disorders can have a range of long-term effects on both the mind and the body. These long-term effects of eating disorders are important to understand in order to properly treat people suffering from them.

Chapter 1:
Effects of Eating Disorders on the Heart

One of the organs affected by eating disorders is the heart. For those who avoid or restrict their food intake, starvation and low body weight can lead to serious heart problems. This includes damage to the heart, low blood pressure, and slow or uneven heart beats. 

However, heart problems are not limited to those who starve themselves. Eating large amounts of food in a short time and trying to get rid of that food by vomiting or using laxatives or diuretics can also cause serious heart problems. These problems may include damage or changes to the blood vessels that provide blood to the heart, uneven heart beats, and reduced flow of oxygen and blood to the heart. In addition, people who are overweight due to overeating may develop problems with high blood pressure and cholesterol. It is very important to take these physical effects of eating disorders seriously, as in worst case they can lead to heart attack, stroke, and death.


Chapter 2:
Weak Bones

Another physical effect of eating disorders is low bone density or weak bones. Because of weak bones, people with an eating disorder are more likely than others to break their bones. They also have a high risk of bone diseases in adulthood. These problems are especially common among those who starve themselves and are underweight. However, people who vomit or use other methods to get rid of food that they have eaten, may also have these problems if their body weight is very low. Having weak bones can have a huge impact on quality of life. This is because it may prevent people from being physically active and taking part in daily activities.


Chapter 3:
Poor Tooth Health

For people who vomit to get rid of food that they have eaten, poor tooth health is common. This is because the acids in vomit can wear away the tooth emamel and lead to holes in the teeth, as well as damage the gum. Furthermore, people who overeat may eat a lot of sugary foods. This can also lead to tooth wear and holes in the teeth. Tooth wear is less common among those with an eating disorder that does not include vomiting or overeating. However, they may still have other oral problems due to a lack of vitamins and nutrients, such as damage to the gum. Therefore, oral health care is important for people with any type of eating disorder.


Chapter 4:
Chronic Illness

Other long-term physical effects of eating disorders include chronic diseases. People with an eating disorder often suffer from chronic pain, tiredness, and sleep problems. They may also be often ill with sicknesses such as influenza. In addition, those who overeat have an increased risk of developing diabetes. These chronic health problems may have a large impact on the everyday lives and well-being of people suffering from an eating disorder, as people suffering from them often need to restrict their activities because of poor health.


Chapter 5:
Female Health

Women with an eating disorder may experience a range of problems related to reproductive health. For example, they may experience changes in or loss of their period due to underweight. They also have an increased risk of problems during and after pregnancy. For example, they may suffer from extreme nausea, anemia, and feel weak and tired while pregnant. They are also more likely to give birth before the expected time and to not being able to give birth naturally. In addition, their children may have lower than normal weight and growth in the womb. Therefore, it is important that these women receive proper support and follow-up when they are pregnant.


Chapter 6:
Effects of Eating Disorders on the Brain

A final organ affected by eating disorders is the brain. One of the main effects on the brain is volume loss. This includes volume loss in brain areas that play a role in memory, learning, and mood. These effects on the brain may lead to problems with memory, learning, and mood. In addition, people with eating disorders may show changes in neuronal processes in the brain. These changes may influence people’s mood and ability to deal with stress. Therefore, people with an eating disorder often also suffer from other mental health problems, such as anxiety.


Chapter 7:
Physical Effects of Eating Disorders Can Be Reversed

It is clear that the long-term effects of eating disorders can be devastating and severe. Knowledge about these effects is crucial for giving people with eating disorders the best possible treatment and support. Luckily, many of the effects improve with successful treatment. For example, with successful treatment and return to normal body weight, brain volume may go back to normal too. Bone and heart related problems can also be reversed or improved. That said, the road to recovery is often long and requires a lot of hard work and support. If you are struggling with an eating disorder or other mental problems, Epsychonline has a range of resources and self-help courses that may help you. This includes a course on Binge Eating Disorder Treatment. You can visit our Courses page to find a course that suits you. You may also want to read up a bit more on Should I Take a Binge Eating Disorder Test to get a better understanding of Long-Term Effects of Eating Disorders on Physical Health.