Bulimia Signs & Symptoms

Many family members who are worried about a loved one struggling with bulimia may be wondering what the signs and symptoms of bulimia are. Unfortunately, bulimia symptoms aren’t always noticeable right away. At Eating Disorder Solutions, we help educate individuals and their families about bulimia and its signs and symptoms so they can seek proper treatment for themselves or a loved one. Learn more about the signs of bulimia and contact Eating Disorder Solutions if you or a loved one need assistance with bulimia treatment.

What Is Bulimia?

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder with potentially serious and life-threatening consequences. It’s crucial for individuals to get treatment to address the underlying causes. However, bulimia symptoms aren’t always noticeable right away. Eating Disorder Solutions aims to change that by educating individuals and their families about bulimia and its signs and symptoms so that they can seek treatment for themselves or a loved one.


Simply referred to as bulimia, this eating disorder is characterized by binge eating and then compensating for the binge in some way, such as purging through the act of vomiting, excessive use of laxatives, diuretics, fasting, or excessive exercise. Binge eating involves consuming a large amount of food in a short period of time, while the compensation for the binge often involves self-induced vomiting or purging. Some individuals with bulimia use laxatives or diuretics to compensate for bingeing, while others excessively exercise or fast to restrict their calorie intake.


Since purging or burning all of the calories consumed is impossible, many individuals with bulimia end up gaining weight compared to what’s normal for their age and height based on health care standards. However, some individuals maintain their weight, while others become underweight.

Help Recover from Bulimia Nervosa

Regardless of weight, it’s very unhealthy for individuals to continue this behavior. When the first bulimia symptoms develop, they require effective treatment from a team of specialists. Bulimia is extremely unhealthy and can lead to devastating consequences if left untreated. It is more than a physical condition. It’s also a mental health disorder, so treatment revolves around addressing the distorted emotions and thoughts that individuals develop about their own bodies. Most of the time, they have a poor self-image and bad relationship with food.


The nurses, doctors, therapists and registered dietitians at Eating Disorder Solutions in Dallas, Texas, have the expertise to diagnose and treat bulimia. To support long-term recovery, our compassionate staff works with clients on a personal level to help them overcome the physical, emotional and mental issues that occur with the eating disorder.


Learn more about the signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa and get in touch with our team if you or a loved one needs assistance. 

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    Bulimia Nervosa Symptoms

    Bulimia Statistics

    To better understand the dangers of this disorder, we’ve included a few bulimia statistics below.

    • Bulimia disproportionately affects more women than men, partially due to societal stereotypes and expectations.
    • Although women have a higher risk of developing bulimia, men can still get it. Among men, those who are gay or bisexual are at a greater risk of developing bulimia than those who are heterosexual.
    • Bulimia is very prevalent in those who are younger. Onset of this disorder is usually in the teens.
    • A lot of people who have bulimia have a co-occurring disorder. In fact, almost half of all individuals with bulimia have a comorbid mood disorder.
    • Bulimia can be harder to recognize in others than you think. People with bulimia can have normal body weights, and in some instances, even be overweight.
    • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies are more common with those affected by bulimia. Tragically, suicide is one of the more common causes of death for this disorder.
    • In addition to having fairly high rates of relapse, it’s reported that only 1/10 of those with bulimia seek treatment.

    Common Bulimia Symptoms

    Bingeing and purging can take a toll on individuals who develop bulimia, especially since most individuals with bulimia will binge and purge several times a week or, in serious cases, several times a day. However, it’s not always easy to identify bulimia symptoms in the early stages of the eating disorder. In particular, the physical signs of bulimia can take some time to develop.


    The side effects of bulimia nervosa are not only physical, but mental and emotional, too. Below are the most common side effects of bulimia on the body that can be life-threatening and severe.

    Bulimia Nervosa Treatment
    • Dental problems and eroding teeth from purging
    • Dry skin and brittle nails
    • Abnormal bowel function
    • Electrolyte imbalance, which can cause cardiac arrest
    • Constipation, acid reflux or other stomach issues
    • Dehydration
    • Inconsistent or loss of menstrual periods
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Muscle cramps and weakness
    • Seizures
    • Thinning hair
    • Tingling hands or feet
    • Fainting

    Mental Bulimia Symptoms

    Binging and purging takes can take more than just a physical toll on oneself. In fact, several common behavioral and mental bulimia symptoms can develop. Mentally, individuals with bulimia have an obsession with dieting, body image and weight. Individuals with bulimia may experience anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. To cope, many individuals will turn to drugs or alcohol to relieve their pain temporarily. 


    On the behavioral side, they binge repeatedly and tend to lose control during those periods. Purging is the most common way that they try to rectify the large amount of food eaten.They will often binge and purge in secret, which can add to feelings of anxiety and stress and reinforce a feeling of shame.


    At Eating Disorder Solutions, we take a look at physical, behavioral and mental symptoms to determine whether individuals have bulimia. After a full assessment of bulimia symptoms, we can help them choose the best level of care and the treatments that will allow them to heal properly.

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      Bulimia Nervosa Recovery

      Warning Signs of Bulimia

      Although it takes time for some bulimia nervosa symptoms to develop, it’s also difficult to identify the eating disorder because individuals hide the symptoms. Despite that, family members and friends can keep an eye out for this secretive behavior. For instance, individuals who are hiding bulimia symptoms may become socially isolated, anxious or depressed.


      Also, family and friends might notice that their loved ones are more preoccupied with their weight and body shape than they used to be. Maybe they’ve developed a distorted or negative body image. These warning signs of bulimia are most noticeable in conversation. For example, individuals with bulimia may often complain about how their bodies look.


      Bingeing and purging are the most common signs and symptoms of bulimia with each behavior having its own red flags.

      Bulimia Symptoms: Bingeing

      During a binge, individuals eat too much food, usually in private. They might invade the pantry when they get home. Others might visit numerous fast-food restaurants in a row and secretly eat between each stop. The bottom line is that they feel compelled to eat more than they should. Some signs of binge eating include:

      • Eating more than a normal snack or meal
      • Eating to the point of physical pain or discomfort
      • The feeling of being unable to control eating
      • Hoarding or hiding food
      • Making excuses for long absences from social gatherings, school or work
      • Making excuses for missing money or food
      Binge Eating

      Bulimia Symptoms: Purging

      Because of their behavior during binge episodes, individuals feel ashamed and disgusted with themselves afterward. These feelings are accompanied with the need to purge the extra calories. In order to achieve that, they may force themselves to vomit or abuse diuretics or laxatives. As the eating disorder and bulimia symptoms worsen, they could develop a compulsion to purge after having a normal meal or small snack. Some signs of self-induced vomiting include:

      • Calluses, scars or sores on knuckles
      • Damaged gums and teeth from stomach acid
      • Empty boxes of diuretic or laxative drugs
      • Habitually visiting the restroom during or right after meals
      • Persistent mouth or throat sores
      • Puffiness in their cheeks from swollen salivary glands
      • Raspy or scratchy sounding voice

      However, not all individuals with bulimia purge or use diuretics or laxatives to eliminate consumed calories. Some of them exercise for hours on end to burn off the extra calories. Others go on crash diets or starve themselves to counteract the high calorie intake. Before beginning treatment, healthcare professionals must distinguish between two types of bulimia nervosa: purging and nonpurging. This will ensure the individual gets the treatment they need for their specific behaviors.


      Since not everyone has the same bulimia symptoms, it’s crucial that they get a professional diagnosis. Family members and friends who notice the warning signs in loved ones should express their concern and offer help to find treatment. If necessary, Eating Disorder Solutions can help bridge that conversation and offer guidance that encourages loved ones to seek treatment. 

      Bulimia Relapse: Signs & Symptoms

      Unfortunately, bulimia relapse is fairly common. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t rebound back and recover – you can. For most, the biggest challenge is not being able to identify bulimia relapse triggers early on or as they happen, preventing them from seeking the necessary immediate help and treatment.

      If you begin to notice any of the following, you should seek professional help as soon as possible.

      • Feelings of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness
      • Returning obsessive thoughts, either about weight or food
      • Re-engaging, or the thought of re-engaging, in past eating behaviors, including purging
      • Noticeable change in weight
      • Restored sense of guilt of eating or increased dissatisfaction with current body image

      The most important step in effective bulimia relapse prevention is to seek treatment immediately once you begin noticing red flags of returned behavior.

      Common Co-Occurring Disorders for Bulimia

      In many instances, those who suffer from bulimia also suffer from a co-occurring disorder or addiction. From comorbid mood disorders to drug addictions, the types of co-occurring disorders vary. These co-occurring disorders can make bulimia harder to monitor and control, increasing the severity and worsening the symptoms of the disorder. At Eating Disorder Solutions, we’ll make sure to provide a thorough diagnosis as well as provide a specialized treatment plan that addresses both bulimia as well as any co-occurring disorder you may have.

      Bulimia Treatment Programs

      Long-Term Recovery from Bulimia at Eating Disorder Solutions

      Bulimia is a serious eating disorder that requires specialized treatment from a multidisciplinary team. Without treatment, those living with bulimia will experience serious health risks that can have long-term lasting effects. Fortunately, bulimia can be treated and individuals can free themselves from the cycle of bingeing and purging.


      Eating Disorder Solutions is the ideal choice for bulimia nervosa treatment because we take a whole-person approach to healing. Unlike other facilities, we create personalized treatment plans that address the unique emotional and physical concerns of each client. We forge strong relationships and create an atmosphere of openness and trust.


      During your treatment at Eating Disorder Solutions, you’ll have access to a renowned team of expert doctors, psychiatrists, and medical professionals. During your stay, you’ll discover the root of the issue and be given the tools to cope. Our goal is to support you in gaining the skills and clarity you need to continue making progress even after you leave our facility. 

      What is Bulimia Treatment Like?

      Residential Bulimia Treatment

      Our residential program is the highest level of care that we offer, and our facility is one of very few that provide this level of treatment. It’s a structured live-in program in our home environment with 24-hour access to doctors, nurses and therapists.


      During the program, individuals with bulimia symptoms participate in 8 to 10 hours of therapy each day. Our therapists use a range of counseling techniques in individual, group and family sessions based on each client’s needs. The program also includes nutrition education and meal support with our registered dietitians.

      Bulimia Residential Treatment

      The amount of time that individuals spend in this program depends on how severe their situations are and how quickly that they heal. Because of that, some clients only spend a few weeks in residential treatment, but others need a few months.

      Bulimia Partial Hospitalization Treatment

      Partial Hospitalization Bulimia Treatment

      Following our residential program, individuals can step down to our partial hospitalization program. It allows them to return to living at home while still getting guidance as they adjust to living outside of our facility. They visit our treatment center on five or six days a week for about five hours of therapy each day to hinder the recurrence of bulimia symptoms. Like our residential program, they participate in individual, group and family counseling and receive structured meals and nutrition support.

      Intensive Outpatient Bulimia Treatment

      Taking another step down, our intensive outpatient program gives individuals more freedom. It allows them to apply everything that they’ve learned to real-life situations in order to prevent bulimia symptoms. To ensure long-term success even after a client leaves our facility, we continue to provide support along the way so that they don’t become overwhelmed and revert to old habits. They’ll visit our facility three days a week for about three hours of counseling each day.

      Bulimia Intensive Outpatient Treatment

      Get Help with Bulimia Symptoms Today

      If you or someone you care about has been struggling with bulimia, you are likely experiencing a flood of emotions about the future. From feeling overwhelmed too scared and frustrated, eating disorders should only Fortunately, the caring, expert staff at Eating Disorder Solutions can help you regain control of your life and your bulimia symptoms.


      At Eating Disorder Solutions, we take a look at physical, behavioral and mental symptoms to determine whether individuals have bulimia. After a full assessment of bulimia symptoms, we can help them choose the best level of care and the treatments that will allow them to heal properly.


      If you have noticed the signs of bulimia in yourself or a loved one, we encourage you to seek treatment at Eating Disorder Solutions in Dallas, TX. We can provide guidance that encourages your loved one to turn to look for help at our safe and tranquil environment.


      Contact the compassionate team at Eating Disorder Solutions in Dallas, Texas, for fully individualized, comprehensive care.

      Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa