Listen as Dr. Berkus explains what bulimia nervosa is.
Bulimics, on the other hand, may be normal weight or slightly above normal weight and these are people that will binge or eat certain amount of food that’s usually more than most people would eat at one sitting and then they will have some behavior after they eat in the attempt to get rid of what they have just eaten.
The classic thought is of a person that will purge or vomit after they have eaten and they may have to put their finger down their throat to induce this, some of them can vomit spontaneously, and what happens is that they are at risk for bleeding out from their esophagus because that stomach acid comes over those fine vessels in their throat and can lead to bleed outs.
Now this is like tissue paper dissolving and I have never seen anybody survive more than one esophageal bleed. They may exercise compulsively, to the point where they can spontaneously fracture a leg or arm because their bones can become so depleted of needed materials that they are fragile.
They may use laxatives, and laxatives work on the large intestine or the colon and they un-teach the colon how to regulate fluid in the body and so what happens is the fluid-fat imbalance occurs, which changes the electrolyte balance in the body and they are at risk to induce cardiac arrest. They are at risk to having low potassium, low sodium, low chloride, which all affects metabolic activity in the body.
So it can be extremely dangerous and I think the most famous case is Terri Schiavo who became vegetarian because of the pressure differences from purging that led to the bleeding of her head. So there’s a lot of very serious complications that a lot of people don’t realize when they start purging.