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Symptoms and Signs of Bulimia

Doctor's Notes on Bulimia

Bulimia is an eating disorder in which a person binges on food (eats large amounts of food over a short period of time) and then forces themself to vomit (purge) in a cycle of binging and purging. Purging can also involve the misuse of laxatives. The fear of gaining weight can cause patients with bulimia to misuse diet pills, diuretics (water pills), or other medications. Excessive exercise, dieting, or fasting in an attempt to lose weight may also occur. 

An early symptom of bulimia is often an extreme preoccupation with obesity, weight, and body shape. Other symptoms of bulimia include hiding bingeing and purging behavior from others, generalized weakness, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of menstrual cycles, complaints of vomiting or diarrhea (without revealing is self-induced, dental cavities, loss of tooth enamel, enlarged salivary glands, scars on the knuckles (from chronic self-induced vomiting), signs of malnutrition or dehydration including dry skin, changes in the hair and nails, swelling of the lower legs and feet, or loss of sensation in the hands or feet may be present.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
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.