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What are the Side Effects of Anorexia?

Article Details
  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Anorexia nervosa, commonly referred to as anorexia, is a relatively common eating disorder, especially prevalent among adolescent girls and young women. Anorexia is caused by a psychological disorder that leads a patient to have an extreme fear of becoming overweight, often causing her to basically starve herself in an effort to remain thin. Side effects of anorexia are far-reaching and may include psychological issues such as mood swings or depression. Some physical side effects of anorexia may include fatigue, low blood pressure, hair loss, or even organ failure in severe cases, which often leads to death.

Anorexia begins as a psychological disorder in which the patient, no matter how thin, sees herself as fat. This faulty perception will often lead her to eat very little, or she may go days or even weeks without eating anything at all. The initial side effects of anorexia can not usually be noticed by others, as it begins in the mind of the patient.

As the disorder progresses, some of the side effects of anorexia may start to become visible to other people. The patient may start to avoid situations which would force her to eat with others. Often, anorexic patients will begin an extreme exercise regimen in an attempt to lose weight or avoid gaining weight. Patients also may develop difficulty concentrating or start showing erratic behavior.

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If an anorexic patient does not receive appropriate treatment, physical side effects of anorexia may begin to develop. At first, there may be a noticeable weight loss, which the patient may try to hide by wearing several layers of clothing. The patient will often begin to have dizzy spells as well, due to low blood pressure caused by starvation. Her hair also may begin to become thinner or even fall out in clumps. In many cases, menstruation will stop, often causing infertility.

If the condition continues for a prolonged amount of time and is left untreated, the side effects of anorexia may become life-threatening. First, the thyroid gland may stop functioning properly, causing hormone imbalances. Urinary tract infections also are common as the kidneys begin to shut down; treatment usually requires dialysis or a transplant, if the patient is still healthy enough to even undergo this type of treatment. Liver failure may also occur, and as time goes on, the rest of the body's systems begin to shut down, often leading to death. Anorexia is a treatable disorder as long as it is diagnosed early enough and the patient agrees to participate in a treatment plan.

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