Teenagers are under a lot of pressure, and young girls seem to face issues with their body image to an even greater degree than their male peers.
Teen Bulimia Warning Signs
Young girls already put enough pressure on themselves. They believe they need to be beautiful. Pressure from others can push them over the edge to take drastic measures to fit in. Unfortunately, many teens struggle with their body image, regardless of their size. Anorexia and bulimia are common. Teenage boys may also face similar struggles, but it doesn’t always manifest itself in the same way. There is pressure upon boys to maintain a certain physical appearance, but unlike girls, the goal is not to remain stick thin.
Media Pressure and Body Image Issues
Teenage girls do not always have the best influence when it comes to loving their bodies as they are provided they’re healthy. They look at actresses and models in magazine who are all sample sizes (size 0-4). Therefore, they believe that this is the attractive ideal of what they should look like.
They might find similar pressure from their own female role models. Mothers may constantly talk about being on diet or reading about eating habits in magazines.
With the negative influences, it’s no surprise they’d have body image issues. But anorexia or bulimia are eating disorders and they’re anything but healthy, so it’s important that those around them be on the lookout for signs that they might be struggling with their weight.
Signs of Bulimia in Teen Girls
There are a number of ways that parents, teachers at school or other people regularly in the presence of teenage girls can detect bulimia. Most often, it is characterized by binging upon food. Teens often use junk food. Then they purge when they feel guilt for what they’ve eaten or they worry that they will put on weight.
Sometimes, bulimic teenagers go through stages. At times they will refuse to eat, and simply push food around their plates during a meal. They may also turn their nose up at many foods, and then suddenly appear to have a change of heart and go through a period of binging.
Of course, there are physical signs of bulimia as well. Discoloration or breaking down of the teeth may be visually noticeable due to the presence of stomach acid in the mouth on a regular basis. Ulcers and other abrasions around the lips may appear. Bulimic teens may also begin to lose their hair or have it thin out. Hair can appear dull and lifeless as can skin.
The Dangers of Teen Bulimia
One thing that makes teen bulimia so dangerous is that those who suffer from it tend to maintain a normal weight. This is insidious because it makes the condition harder to spot. In addition, it mistakenly leads the sufferer to believe that they are not putting their health at risk. But be aware, bulimia nervosa affects the entire body. It destabilizes the mind and causes psychological problems. It affects the hormonal production. Bullimia impacts the nervous and the cardio systems, kidney, bones, and the gastro-intestinal system.
Due to the unhealthy eating habits of the bulimics, there is a mineral depletion in the body. That is, the body is deprived of the vital minerals such as sodium, calcium and potassium. Low blood pressure and pulse, dehydration and dizziness are the some of the warning signs of this eating disorder.
Cardiac arrest happens when the level of potassium and other vital electrolytes decreases in the blood stream. Self-induced vomiting causes serious problems like erosion of the teeth. The acid in vomit causes the enamel to wear off. Most of the bulimics push their fingers down the throat to induce purging. In the long run, it will lead to inflammation of the esophagus and swelling of the glands near it.
Due to continuous bingeing and purging, the bowel movements become sluggish. This causes delays in emptying. This leads to constipation. The delayed bowel movement creates the feeling of fullness even when they have consumed only little food. Again the imbalances in the secretion of hormones can lead to irregularities in the menstrual cycle. There is also decrease in the healthy sexual appetite.
Teen Bulimia Dangers—Emotional Health
The mental health of the teen bulimic is affected at the initial stage of disease. They fail to understand whether their stomach is full or not. They tend to overeat and then purge. Bulimia is detrimental to emotional health. Bulimics often have low self-esteem, obsessive compulsive disorder, and guilt about their eating habits. Furthermore, they are ashamed of their weight. Suicidal thoughts appear in the most extreme cases.
Treating Teen Bulimia
Bulimia becomes a lifestyle for many teens, and these habits are not easy to break. The best treatment is teen rehab. Often those with severe cases will require inpatient treatment. This way, eating can be closely monitored by professionals. It is key to ensure that they are abiding by the guidelines required for recovery. Counseling is a necessary step. Bulimia is not only a physical issue, though it does become one. It is about poor self-esteem and distorted body image, so the emotional factors must be addressed first.