Anorexia nervosa, commonly referred to simply as anorexia, is an eating disorder that makes people lose more weight than is considered healthy for their age and height. It usually begins in young people around the onset of puberty. Individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa have extreme weight loss. Weight loss is usually 15% below the person's normal body weight. People suffering from anorexia are very skinny but are convinced that they are overweight. Weight loss is obtained by many ways. Some of the common techniques used are excessive exercise, intake of laxatives and not eating. Anorexia is primarily a disorder of females. Only rarely is it found in males. There are two types of anorexia nervosa:
1. Restricting Type: also called restricting, is found in those anorexics who severely limit their caloric intake and/or who exercise to excess to cause weight loss.
2. Binge-Eating/Purging Type: also called binge-eating/purging, is found in those anorexics that eat in binges and then purge the body of the ingested food either by self-induced vomiting, the ingestion of large quantities of laxatives, the overuse of diuretics and enemas to rid the body of food.
Some other symptoms of anorexia are:
1. Loss of at least 3 consecutive menstrual periods (in women)
2. Not wanting or refusing to eat in public
5. Brittle skin
6. Shortness of breath
7. Obsessive about calorie intake
The exact causes of anorexia nervosa are unknown. Many factors probably are involved. Genes and hormones may play a role. Social attitudes promoting very thin body types may also be involved. Risk factors for anorexia include:
1. Trying to be perfect or overly focused on rules
2. Being more worried about, or paying more attention to, weight and shape
3. Having eating problems during infancy or early childhood
4. Certain social or cultural ideas about health and beauty
5. Having a negative self-image
6. Having an anxiety disorder as a child
There are many medical consequences associated with anorexia. They include: shrunken bones, mineral loss, low body temperature, irregular heartbeat, permanent failure of normal growth, development of osteoporosis and bulimia nervosa. Continued use of laxatives is harmful to the body. It wears out the bowel muscle and causes it to decrease in function. Some laxatives contain harsh substances that may be reabsorbed into your system.