Symptoms and Signs of Anorexia Nervosa

Doctor's Notes on Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder (eating too little to maintain health). Signs and symptoms may include an intense fear of weight gain (the person believes they are overweight even if they are normal or underweight), under eat or practice extreme dieting and/or exercise, vomiting (sometimes self-induced), laxative abuse, diuretic abuse and may use appetite-suppressant drugs. Other signs an symptoms include depression, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, absent or irregular periods, delayed puberty, tooth decay, kidney stones, brittle nails, low blood pressure or slow heart rate, hair thinning, dryness of skin, hair and yellowish color, cold sensitivity, easy bruising and premature aging. Some may develop hand injuries and cheek puffiness from trying to induce vomiting.

The exact causes of anorexia nervosa are unclear but psychological, genetic, biological, developmental, and social factors may predispose some individuals to develop this disease.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.