Skip Navigation Bar
NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

Symptoms and Warning Signs

Anorexia Nervosa

  • emaciation (extremely thin from lack of nutrition)
  • relentless pursuit of thinness; unwilling to maintain a normal or healthy weight
  • distorted body image; intense fear of gaining weight
  • lack of menstruation among girls and women
  • repeatedly weighing him/herself
  • portioning food carefully, eating only small amounts of only certain foods
  • excessive exercise, self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas

Other symptoms that may develop over time:

  • thinning bones
  • brittle hair and nails
  • dry, yellowish skin
  • growth of fine hair over the body
  • mild anemia and muscle weakness and loss
  • severe constipation
  • low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
  • feeling cold all the time
  • lethargy

Bulimia Nervosa

  • frequently eating large amounts of food (binge-eating)
  • feeling a lack of control over the eating
  • compensating for binge-eating with self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives and diuretics, fasting, and excessive exercise
  • binging and purging in secret; feelings of shame and disgust
  • intensely unhappy with body size and shape despite normal height and weight

Other symptoms include:

  • chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • swollen glands in neck and below jaw
  • worn tooth enamel from exposure to stomach acids
  • gastroesophageal reflux disorder
  • intestinal distress from laxative abuse
  • kidney problems from diuretic abuse
  • severe dehydration from purging

Binge Eating Disorder

  • frequently eating large amounts of food (binge-eating)
  • feeling unable to control the eating behavior
  • feelings of guilt, shame, and/or distress about the behavior, which can lead to more binge-eating

Spring 2008 Issue: Volume 3 Number 2 Page 19