Regardless of whether it is anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or OSFED, an eating disorder is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly. If left untreated, an eating disorder can have dire consequences for one’s health. Here are a few of the dangers to be aware of.
Damage to the Cardiovascular System
When your body doesn’t have the necessary calories it requires for fuel, it targets your existing tissue, essentially eating itself. This takes a toll on the heart, preventing it from maintaining a healthy blood pressure and pulse.
Purging also strips the body of essential electrolytes that are necessary for proper muscle function and performance. Remember, your heart is one of your most vital muscles.
Impact on the Gastrointestinal System
Your gastrointestinal system operates on a cycle of digesting and expelling. With an eating disorder, this cycle is disrupted, which can cause:
- Bacterial infections
- Stomach pain
- Food not being digested
Those with eating disorders can also become constipated either due to intestinal muscles not having the necessary energy to pass food or because there isn’t enough food in the intestines to digest.
Just like the rest of your body, your brain needs the energy to function. When you don’t supply the brain with enough power, you can experience numbness in your extremities due to damaged lipids. Muscles can also cramp up, and the person may start to seize because of the imbalance of electrolytes.
Effects on Endocrine System
We need cholesterol and fat for the production of hormones. An eating disorder can result in low levels of testosterone and estrogen. Because the body can become resistant to insulin due to an eating disorder, it’s possible the person can develop Type 2 diabetes.
Impact on Relationships
Outside of physical health, an eating disorder can also negatively impact one’s relationships with friends and family. Habits associated with eating disorders may cause frustration and anxiety from concerned loved ones. Those afflicted may find it difficult to maintain a healthy social life or meet social obligations.
As mentioned previously, an eating disorder disrupts the body’s ability to produce hormones. Because of this, an eating disorder, if left untreated, can cause a person to become infertile. This is a severe possibility as the damage may be permanent and the person may never recover their fertility.
Feelings of starvation or being too full can make it difficult to sleep properly. Even if someone with an eating disorder is able to fall asleep, he or she could develop sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which the person momentarily stops breathing while sleeping.
If left untreated, anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders can result in death. It is important to note that compared to other psychiatric disorders, eating disorders have an unfortunately high death rate. It is critical to recognize the signs early and seek treatment immediately.
If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, Seeds of Hope is here to help. Submit a confidential contact form today to learn more about our treatment program. You can also reach us at (610) 644-6464. We can help you recover and even prevent some of the dangers of eating disorders.