Could Your Teen Have Bulimia?
The eating disorder bulimia is dangerous to overall health, and especially harmful to the teeth.1 While both girls and boys can suffer from this condition, it’s much more common in girls.2 How can a parent tell the difference between typical adolescent concern about looks and the fixation with weight that marks bulimia?
Teens with bulimia generally go on eating splurges, called binges, then try to avoid gaining weight by purging with laxatives or throwing up.3 They also may exercise obsessively.3 Other warning signs could include:
Rough skin on the fingers or knuckles from inducing vomiting3
Swollen cheeks or jawline3
Front teeth that look clear at their edges or are worn from stomach acid1
Irregular menstrual periods in girls4
Using diuretics, or water pills4
An unusual preoccupation with calorie counting4
Intense fear of gaining weight5
Frequent use of the bathroom after meals3
1 “Eating Disorders.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/2582.aspx?currentTab=2 Accessed 2010.
2 “Eating Disorders.” National Institute of Mental Health National Institutes of Health.www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/complete-index.shtml Accessed 2010.
3 “Bulimia Nervosa.” National Women’sHealth Information Center, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, January 2007. http://womenshealth.gov/search/cgi-bin/query-meta.exe?input-form=simple-womenshealth&v%3Asources=womenshealth-bundle&v%3Aproject=womenshealth&query=bulimia&search=Search. Accessed 2010.
4 “Eating Disorders: Facts for Teens.”American Academy of Family Physicians, November 2006. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/children/teens/eating/277.html. Accessed 2010.
5 “Bulimia Nervosa.” National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, June 26, 2008. www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa.shtml Accessed 2010.