Eating Disorders: Effects of Starving and Vomiting

I wanted to post some more on the effects of eating disorders on the mind and body, but this time focusing on the effects of specific behaviours.  In particular, I will be describing some of the physical and psychology effects of starving and vomiting (i.e. purging).

       Starvation can lead to:

  • Sensitivity to the cold.

  • Sleep disturbances.

  • Bladder weakness.

  • Excess hair growth on the body.

  • Poor circulation.

  • Thin bones.

  • Periods stop or become irregular.

  • Gut function is decreased.

  • Constipation.

  • Anaemia.

  • Damaged liver.

  • Swelling of the ankles and legs.

  • Increased blood cholesterol.

  • Tiredness.

  • Lowered mood.

  • Tearfulness.

  • Pessimism.

  • Ability and interest to form relationships is diminished.

  • Poor concentration.

  • Complex thought is impaired.

    Vomiting as a method of purging yourself of food can lead to:

  • Loss of blood salts and water, which can lead to chronic tiredness, weakness, inability to concentrate, dizziness, headaches, and palpitations.

  • Epileptic fits.

  • Irregular heartbeat.

  • Kidney damage.

  • Stomach acid from the stomach causes dental problems.

  • Swelling of salivary glands and cheeks

  • Damage to the gullet.

  • Stomach pain.

  • Vomiting blood.

  • Chronic sore throat.

  • Broken blood vessels in the eye.

  • Ruptured stomach.


The reason for listing these symptoms is to raise awareness of the severity of these eating disorder behaviours.  The problem is that many of these consequences are not noticeable initially, which can mean that sufferers can avoid facing the damage they are doing to themselves.  Over time, the symptoms become worse and in some cases  end up being life-threatening. If you suffer from an eating disorder or are currently in recovery, please use this post as a reminder to take care of yourself.  Some of the damage that is happening is inside you and can’t be seen until it is too late.

Categories: Health, Psychology

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. It’s good to make people aware of all these damages that the eating disorders can bring on Nicola. I know nobody wants to have the conditions in the first place, but I’m sure they wouldn’t realise how many other problems they may be bringing on. Great post. xx

  2. Hi Susan,

    I agree. No one who has an eating disorder is doing it for these effects. However, I think a reminder of the effects can help those trying to recover to stay focused.

  3. Being rather poor, and unable to buy much food, let alone healthy food, I must ask. Should I see a doctor? I’m 18, and have barely a single meal a day, with almost no nutrients running through my body. I’ve been starving for a few months now, but still have been gaining weight. My stomach feels like there is a knot in it at all times, I am constipated with almost every bowel movement, and just recently found myself throwing up, often with streaks of blood in the bile.

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