What Are the Health Risks of Bulimia Nervosa?

Coping with the repetitive cycle of binging and purging that comes with bulimia nervosa can be challenging and concerning. Moreover, this behavior can have serious health consequences and even become life-threatening. This serious eating disorder requires professional treatment and should be taken seriously.

Sanford Comprehensive Treatment for Eating Disorders (Sanford CTED) offers a specialized bulimia nervosa program for individuals seeking effective treatment. Our caring and compassionate team of specialists provides evidence-based strategies to help individuals gain control of their eating behaviors. We take an individualized approach, focusing on the needs and goals of each person in treatment. Don’t hesitate to call us today at 844-448-7700 for information or admissions to a Sanford program.

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What Is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is a severe eating disorder characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors, commonly called purging. During a binge, an individual consumes large quantities of food in a short period, often in secret and to the point of discomfort. The binge is then followed by feelings of guilt and shame, leading to purging behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting or the use of laxatives, diuretics, and diet pills.

Are There Physical Health Consequences of Bulimia Nervosa?

Yes, there are significant physical health risks associated with bulimia nervosa. In fact, the repeated cycle of bingeing and purging puts enormous strain on the body, leading to a range of medical complications. Additionally, these can include electrolyte imbalances, which can cause irregular heart rhythms and potential heart failure, and other life-threatening conditions. Frequent vomiting can lead to inflammation and possible esophagus rupture, tooth decay, and chronic gastrointestinal problems. Misuse of laxatives can result in chronic constipation and a dependency on laxatives for bowel movements.

Furthermore, bulimia nervosa can cause hormonal imbalances leading to menstrual irregularities and fertility issues. In severe cases, the condition can also lead to kidney damage. It’s necessary to understand that these health risks make bulimia nervosa a severe and potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate professional intervention.

Long-Term Health Risks

Over the long term, the health risks of bulimia nervosa can become severe and deeply ingrained, wreaking havoc on almost every system in the body. Understanding these potential consequences and seeking treatment as early as possible is vital to mitigate the damage.

Here are some of the long-term health risks of bulimia nervosa:

  • Gastrointestinal issues – Chronic vomiting and laxative use can lead to digestive problems, including acid reflux, stomach ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Dental problems – Frequent, self-induced vomiting exposes the teeth to stomach acid, which can erode tooth enamel, leading to cavities and tooth loss.
  • Heart complications – Electrolyte imbalances can cause irregular heart rhythms, heart failure, and even death.
  • Bone density loss – Malnutrition and inadequate calcium intake can result in osteoporosis or decreased bone density.
  • Mental health conditions – Individuals with bulimia nervosa are at an increased risk of co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and substance use.

These long-term health risks can be minimized with early intervention and comprehensive treatment.

Understanding the Treatment Options

Bulimia nervosa requires a multi-faceted approach to care. Treatment often includes a combination of psychotherapy and nutritional education. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), specifically tailored for eating disorders, is particularly effective in treating bulimia nervosa.

Nutritional counseling can help individuals establish healthier eating patterns and repair their relationship with food. At the same time, medication may be used to manage co-occurring mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. A personalized, integrated approach to treatment can help individuals manage their symptoms, reduce the occurrence of binging and purging, and improve their overall quality of life.

Sanford CTED offers outpatient and residential programs to treat individuals with bulimia nervosa. Our team of specialists provides evidence-based strategies and resources designed to help individuals regain control of their eating behaviors. We provide a supportive, therapeutic setting. We also offer family programs and long-term support through our robust alumni programs.

Call Sanford CTED for More Information About Treatment for Eating Disorders

If you or a loved one is struggling with bulimia nervosa, don’t hesitate to contact Sanford Behavioral Health. As a center dedicated to treating eating disorders, we understand the unique challenges and health risks posed by bulimia nervosa. Our team of professionals is ready to provide personalized support and effective strategies to overcome this condition.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, eating disorders, or co-occurring mental health conditions, don’t wait to change your life – click the link and get in touch today.


Sanford Behavioral Health is licensed and accredited as an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving all of Michigan and beyond. Each of Sanford’s facilities in Greater Grand Rapids is carefully and diligently crafted to create a welcoming and comforting environment. Sanford is led by a psychiatrist-led team of medical, clinical, and support personnel providing medication-assisted, evidenced-based treatment to residential, outpatient, and telehealth patients. For more information, visit www.sanfordbehavioralhealth.com.