Bulimia – Types, Causes, Symptoms and Risk factors


Bulimia is also known as bulimia nervosa. This is very serious disorder which is categorized as eating disorder.  This kind of disorder can be very dangerous at people’s life because when people are suffering from bulimia, then they are eating large amounts of foods. After they have eaten large amounts of foods, they have started ridding off the food in unhealthy way. People who are suffering from bulimia can force engage or vomiting when they are doing excessive exercises [1]. In some case people purge when they are eating normal size meal or when they are having a small snack. This type of disorder can be categorized in the following ways:

  • Purging bulimia: This is case of bulimia when you misuse laxatives or self-induce vomiting, enema or diuretics after the bingeing
  • Non-purging bulimia: This is a case of bulimia when you are using other ways to get rid of your calories and to prevent yourself from gaining weight again such as excessive exercises, fasting and strict dieting

No matter what the method you are using against your disorder, when you trying to get rid of your extra calories this case can result as purging. If you are suffering from bulimia, then you must be preoccupied with the shape and weight of your body. This disease is not connected just with eating but also is connected with the image that some person has about it. When people are suffering from bulimia they are constantly finding flaws in their bodies [2]. When this process is happening, then it is very hard for people who are suffering from bulimia to overcome their disorder. But if you are suffering from this disease, you should not be worried because if you visit your doctor in the early stage of bulimia, then he or she will give you the right medical treatment. Your doctor will show you the way how to eat healthier. When you are eating healthy, then you are not having problems with your weight. Also you are not feeling bad about yourself who is resulting with better opinion about yourself and ability to help your body to get rid of the serious complications which have been done with your condition.

Signs and symptoms of bulimia

Here are the signs and symptoms of this disorder:

  • Using herbal products or dietary supplements excessively for losing their weight
  • Eating until the point of discomfort or pain
  • Living in fear of gaining weight
  • Misusing laxatives, diuretics or enema after eating
  • Being preoccupied with your body shape and weight
  • Restricting calories or avoiding certain foods between binges
  • Eating much more food in a binge episode than in normal meal or snack
  • Feeling that you cannot control your eating behavior
  • Forcing yourself to vomit or exercise too much because you do not want to gain weight after the bingeing

Causes: The exact cause for this kind of eating disorder is not known. There are many factors which can be reason for this kind of disease such as societal expectations, emotional health, biology and other problems.

Risk factors: Here are the risk factors of bulimia:

  • Being female: Females are having increased chances to get bulimia compared to men. [3]
  • Age: Because teens and early adults are often complaining about their weight and the shape of their bodies, these types of people are having the biggest chances to get bulimia. [4]
  • Biology: People who have siblings, parents or children with bulimia are having increased chances to get this disease because there are some genes which can be reason for bulimia. Also if you have deficiency in the brain chemical serotonin, then you are possessing bigger chances to have bulimia. Also if you are overweight and you are in the teen years or you are kid, then you are having increased risk having bulimia. [5]
  • Psychological and emotional issues: Anxiety disorders and low self-esteem which are psychological and emotional issues can be a reason for bulimia. Some of the triggers of this type of bulimia are boredom, stress, restrictive dieting, food and poor self-image. Also there are other factors which can be cause for bulimia such as environmental stress and traumatic events. [6]
  • Media and social pressure: When people are looking TV or when they are reading a magazine, then they see skinny models. Children and teens want to be like them which can result with bad eating habits and risk for having bulimia. [7]
  • Sports, work or artistic pressures: Dancers, actors, models and athletes are having bigger chances to get bulimia because their coaches are encouraging these types of people to lose weight because in this way they will be in better shape. [8]


[1] Anglia Ruskin University. Eating disorders linked to exercise addiction: New study is first to calculate risk factor. Science Daily. 2020.

[2] Anglia Ruskin University. Study links eating disorders with body dysmorphia: Research finds rate of body dysmorphia is 12 times higher among gymgoers with eating issues. Science Daily. 2020.

[3] Weissmann RS, Bulik C. Risk factors for eating disorders. American Psychologis. 2007;62(3):181-98.

[4] Brandt LMT, Fernandes LHF, Aragão AS, et al. Risk behavior for bulimia among adolescents. Revista Paulista de Pediatria. 2019;37(2):217–24.

[5] Berrettini W. The genetics of eating disorders. Psychiatry. 2004;1(3):18–25.

[6] Gagnon-Girouard MP, Chenel-Beaulieu MP, Aime A, et al. Psychological meanings of eating disorders and their association with symptoms, motivation toward treatment, and clinical evolution among outpatients. Europe’s Journal of Psychology. 2019;15(2):367-9.

[7] Al-Sheyab NA, Gharaibeh T, Kheirallah K. Relationship between peer pressure and risk of eating disorders among adolescents in Jordan. Journal of Obesity. 2018;2018:7309878.

[8] Currie A. Sport and eating disorders – Understanding and managing the risks. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine. 2010;1(2):63–8.


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