Understanding Some of the Lesser Known Signs of Bulimia

If you are the parent of a teenager who has suddenly started showing signs of irritability, fatigue, and weight loss, then you may be concerned about possible bulimia. Bulimia can sometimes be difficult to notice, especially if weight loss is more subtle. However, there are some distinctive and lesser known signs of the disease that can help to clue you in on the fact that your child may need assistance from a trained psychiatrist, psychologist, or the experienced personnel at a mental health facility. To better understand if there may be a concern, consider the following information.

Low Blood Pressure

If your teenager has recently had a check-up and you learn that they have low blood pressure, then this may be a sign of bulimia. Bulimia can cause a great deal of cardiovascular symptoms, and low blood pressure shows up fairly early if your child is binging and purging. The changes in blood pressure as well as other issues that include an irregular heartbeat and fainting are linked directly to electrolyte imbalances. When a person induces vomiting or takes laxatives, this causes the body to release a great deal of fluid. Electrolytes like potassium are released from the body at the same time, and this nutrient is extremely important when it comes to regulating the electrochemical impulses that control the muscles and nerves of the body. Since the heart is the most powerful muscle, it makes sense that it would be affected by a reduced level of potassium. 

As laxatives are used, the body will become more and more dehydrated. The blood can then thicken since there is little fluid in the body. This can contribute to heart palpitations, fainting spells, and low blood pressure as well. 

As bulimia progresses, the heart can become weaker and weaker. Your child may eventually have a heart attack. In fact, heart failure is the most common cause of death for individuals who develop eating disorders. This is one reason why it is necessary to seek help for your child if any heart abnormalities are noted. 

Swelling Along The Jawbone

A constant sore throat and the increase of dental decay are two common and well known signs of bulimia. The constant purging and the movement of the stomach acids into the esophagus and mouth cause these issues. You may not know this, but the formation of sores, scars, and abrasions on the knuckles are a concern too. These often appear as your child induces vomiting and stomach acids continually come into contact with the skin. You should definitely look out for these things.

A more uncommon sign that the eating disorder has developed is when you notice some swelling along the jawline. This may seem odd, and it typically indicates that the salivary glands have started to swell. This is just one of the many bodily changes that can be noted, and it is quite pronounced, especially if your child is dehydrated and the face starts to lose a bit of its plump appearance.

When it comes to bulimia, it is not completely clear why the salivary glands swell. It may be caused by the movement of stomach fluids into the small salivary ducts. This can cause irritation and lead to the swelling. If purging continues, the irritated ducts do not have the opportunity to heal, and this can create a "chipmunk" appearance to the face.

Also, the salivary glands may swell because they are stimulated to release a great deal of enzymes. This happens when the vomit comes into contact with the mouth. The release of the enzymes and the lack of food to digest can lead to irritation and swelling issues. 

If you notice any obvious or subtle signs of bulimia, then you need to speak with a professional right away before medical problems worsen. Both inpatient and outpatient treatments can work well depending on the severity of the disease.