Anorexia

Anorexia is an eating disorder. It occurs when a person's obsession with diet and exercise leads to extreme weight loss. The disorder is considered if a person refuses to maintain a body weight at or above 85% of their ideal body weight. It can be fatal.

  • Causes

    The cause of anorexia is not known. It appears that genetics and environment play a role.

  • Definition


    Anorexia is an
    eating disorder. It occurs when a person's obsession with diet and exercise leads to extreme weight loss. The disorder is considered if a person refuses to maintain a body weight at or above 85% of their ideal body weight. It can be fatal.

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam and psychological evaluation will be done.

    Other tests may include:

    • Blood teststo look for chemical imbalances
    • Electrocardiogram (EKG)—to check your heart's electrical activity
    • Bone density tests

  • Prevention

    There are no guidelines to prevent anorexia. Early detection and treatment is the best option.

  • Risk Factors

    Anorexia is more common in females, and during adolescence or early adulthood. Factors that increase your risk for anorexia include:

    • Low self-esteem
    • Feelings of helplessness
    • Perfectionism
    • Fear of becoming overweight
    • Pressure to be thin
    • Families that are overprotective, rigid, not involved, or in conflict
    • Family history of eating disorders
    • Emotional stress

    • Mood disorders, such as
      depression
      or
      generalized anxiety disorder
    • Personality disorders
    • Influenced by social and fashion trends emphasizing or glamorizing thinness

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Excessive weight loss
    • Obsession with food, calories, and fat content
    • Dieting even when thin
    • Intense fear of gaining weight, even when underweight
    • Body dysmorphia—distorted self-image of being overweight despite evidence of the opposite
    • Basing self-evaluation heavily on body weight or shape
    • Loss of menstrual periods or delay in the beginning of periods
    • Excessive exercising
    • Feeling cold, especially hands and feet
    • Being secretive about food
    • Hair loss and/or growth of fine hair on the body
    • Fainting or severe light-headedness
    • Constipation
    • Depression
      and/or
      anxiety
    • Heart palpitations

    Anorexia often leads to a number of serious medical problems including:

    • Osteoporosis
    • Cardiac problems—can be fatal if an irregular heartbeat develops
    Body Dysmorphia
    Anorexia
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  • Treatment

    The goal of treatment is to get you return you to a healthy weight and to help you maintain that weight. A healthy weight is above 85% of your ideal weight. To achieve this, your intake of calories is gradually increased. This can be accomplished through a number of interventions, including the following: