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Last Updated: September 03, 2019
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Anorexia - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

What is Anorexia? Who gets anorexia? How would you know if your loved one has anorexia? What causes anorexia? What are the factors that increase the risk in anorexia? How anorexia affects your body? How is anorexia diagnosed? What is the treatment for anorexia? Can anorexia be prevented? How to help someone living with anorexia nervosa? What is the difference between anorexia and bulimia? How to recover from anorexia? How to overcome anorexia?

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia is an eating disorder which is characterized by unusually low body weight, distorted perception of body weight and fear of becoming fat or obese. People have an obsession with controlling their shape and weight, they usually use a lot of efforts to reduce their body weight and this interferes with their day to day activities. To prevent gaining weight, people will restrict eating a large amount of food. They control their calories by misusing enemas, diuretics, diet aids and laxatives. Sometimes, they also resort to vomiting after eating their meal. It can give you psychological stress about self-worth, body image and social acceptance.

Who gets anorexia?

A person becomes anorexic when he or she starts restricting food. It usually develops in children at the time of puberty. In which 9 out of 10 are female. A person who gets anorexia is malnourished and extremely thin.

How would you know if your loved one has anorexia?

  • Skipping meals
  • Making unusual excuses for not eating food.
  • Eating only foods that are low in calories and fat.
  • Adopting certain eating rituals (spitting food or vomiting after eating) and rigid meal schedule.
  • Cooking meals for others but avoid eating any of it.
  • Checking their weight repeatedly.
  • Checking in the mirror for any perceived flaws.
  • Complaining and whining about being fat.
  • Refusing to eat in public.
  • Eroded teeth and knuckle calluses which occur if they vomit regularly.
  • Covering themselves in a lot of clothes.

What causes anorexia?

  • Biological factors: There can be genetic changes in a person’s body which can make them more prone to developing anorexia. Some people can also have a genetic tendency directed towards perseverance, sensitivity and perfectionism (traits which are associated with it).
  • Psychological factors: Many emotional characteristics can also contribute to it. Women who have OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder) are at a higher risk of developing it. This occurs because they can have an excessive drive for perfectionism, this can make them think they’re never too thin enough.
  • Environmental factors: In today’s world, worth and success are equated with being thin. Peer pressure also helps fuel the desire which exists mostly among young girls.

What are the factors that increase the risk in anorexia?

Risks factors which contribute in developing anorexia:

  • If you are a girl, you can be at a higher risk of developing it.
  • Changes in some genes.
  • If one or both your parents have anorexia, there are chances that you can develop too.
  • Artistic and sports-related activities- Models, dancers, actors and athletes are at a higher risk of developing it.

How anorexia affects your body?

Anorexia is not only weight loss but it is more than this. It affects our body mentally and physically. Anorexia nervosa destroys mind, spirit, relationships, and hampers our body badly. People also get killed due to anorexia nervosa.

How is anorexia diagnosed?

There is no specific laboratory test for it. Identification of Anorexia nervosa is challenging at times. Due to which illness remain undetected for a longer period. If the symptoms are present then the doctor will begin an evaluation. A complete physical examination will be performed and medical history will be checked. Various diagnostic tests will be performed like X-rays and blood tests. Which will evaluate the cause of weight loss and what are its effects on the body organs. A person is recommended to a psychiatrist to be treated for mental illness.

What is the treatment for anorexia?

Treatment for anorexia can be difficult because people do not accept being ill. Anorexia nervosa is of kind eating disorder thus it also needs the same treatment plan.

  • Physiotherapy: This involves practical techniques for developing an interest in healthy food and weight. It helps to change ways through which the person responds to a difficult situation.
  • Medication: Certain SSRIs or antidepressants are prescribed. This helps control anxiety and depression associated with eating disorders.
  • Nutrition Counselling: This strategy is involved in the treatment for creating a good approach towards healthy food. This also teaches the importance of a healthy diet in life.

Can anorexia be prevented?

In most of the cases, Anorexia cannot be prevented. But if the symptoms start to emerge then the person must be treated quickly. To prevent it from teaching about good and healthy eating habits should be given. Showing changes due to unhealthy food also help to prevent eating disorders.

How to help someone living with anorexia nervosa?

These are the ways in which a person living with anorexia can be helped:

  • Encouraged should be given to a person to seek treatment.
  • A person must be told about good dietary plans.
  • Sitting with them during meal time.
  • Keeping a check on their eating habits.
  • Finding their cause of eating disorder and help them to overcome it.

What is the difference between anorexia and bulimia?

Anorexia and Bulimia both are eating disorders but have a slight difference. Different food-related behaviour describes them. It starts from changes in body image. This even results in depression and anxiety. Which leads people to lose weight due to extreme dieting. On the other hand, Bulimia is an unhealthy relationship with food and time. This occurs due to damaged eating cycles. Weight of a person keeps on fluctuating from high to low.

How to recover from anorexia?

  • The first step towards meeting the goals of recovering anorexia is to stick to your treatment plan.
  • Include physical activities in your you regular routine.
  • Practice smart eating habits, including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Ask doctors for some nutritional supplement to get back the lost nutrition.

How to overcome anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa is accompanied by malnutrition which severely affects the body. Hence restoration of weight and nutritional health is important to recover from it. There must be an intake of more than 1000 calories per day. Start planning the meals for proper nutritional values. A balanced diet is important for proper caloric intake.

Popular Questions & Answers

Hello sir can I use e vitamin capsules which we get in stores for my hair as they say that it helps to grow your hair are there any side effects. I only want to use those capsules for my hair and not for eating is this good.

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, which helps to prevent o idative damge to hair follicle, and helps in their maintainence. If the cause of hair fall is different like hormonal or nutrient defeciency, then it won't be of much help.
1 person found this helpful

My sugar level is between 250 to 281. I don't eat rice but consume roti made with Aata and sometimes made with rice. Is it ok for me to bring down the reading to normal?

If your diet restriction amd regular exercise is not able to control blood sugar then star some medicine after consulting a Physician/Endocrinologist.

I am 19 and I have been suffering with PCOS for the past 2 years. I have had a weight gain of 18 kgs in this span. I used allopathy for the first one year and homeopathy for the next. I have had a few results but nothing upto my expectations. As of now I am constantly hungry, have hair loss and have not got periods since 3 months. I do not have thyroid or diabetes . What should I do next?

PCOD is a disease where there is hormonal imbalance. Depending on your complaints, examination, reports and stage of life treatment differs and it also needs more time so get yourself treated with patience. Meet Gynecologist in whom you have trust...
1 person found this helpful

I am anorexia. Afraid of eating sugar. Of any form. I am underweight too. Want to eat normally back again and gain weight. But the fear of getting fat and loss of appetite and hunger is stopping me. Need healthy relation with food again. Please help.

Hi lybrate-user! You don't need to be afraid of getting fat because you can maintain normal weight also. But if you stay underweight because of the fear of getting fat that will create so many problems and deficiencies in your body which will make...

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Content Details
Written By
P.G.In Dietitics,BSc - Dietitics / Nutrition
Dietitian/Nutritionist
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