Inside Look

Bulimia Side Effects: Risks, Recovery, and Long-Term Health Implications

Oct 23, 2023

Bulimia Side Effects: Understanding and Overcoming the Challenges

When it comes to the struggles of bulimia, it is crucial to address the side effects, risks, recovery, and long-term health implications. In this article, I will shed light on various side effects of the disease (many of which I struggled with in my disorder). I was unaware of all of the side effects of bulimia until I did my own research and realized how much my eating disorder was impacting my mental and physical health. I hope this article motivates you to want to put an end to the binge-purge cycle once and for all!

Side Effects of Bulimia: The Impact on the Face

The side effects of bulimia can manifest in various ways, and one area that often shows signs of distress is the face. Excessive vomiting and a cycle of binge eating can lead to a host of issues affecting facial appearance. These issues may include:

1. Dental Problems: Frequent vomiting can erode tooth enamel, leading to increased sensitivity, cavities, and gum problems.

2. Swelling and Puffiness: Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can cause facial swelling, giving the appearance of a "puffy" face. For more information on facial swelling, check out this article from The Wave Clinic.

3. Skin Problems: Nutrient deficiencies can result in dry and dull skin, making it prone to breakouts and a lackluster complexion. My bonus module in the course, Conquering Bulimia, discusses my battle with acne, (and strategies that helped clear my skin!)

Bulimia Risks and Long-Term Side Effects

Understanding the long-term risks associated with bulimia is crucial to inspire action and recovery. Prolonged bulimia can result in devastating health consequences, including:

1. Gastrointestinal Issues: The constant cycle of binging and purging can lead to severe gastrointestinal problems such as esophagus inflammation and acid reflux.

2. Heart Complications: Electrolyte imbalances can strain the heart, potentially leading to arrhythmias and heart failure.

3. Kidney Damage: The kidneys are at risk due to electrolyte imbalances, which can result in renal failure.

4. Mental Health Concerns: Bulimia often co-occurs with depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders, making comprehensive treatment crucial.

Bulimia's Negative Health Effects: A Closer Look

The negative health effects of bulimia extend beyond the physical realm. This eating disorder can take a significant toll on one's mental, emotional, and social well-being. Individuals may face:

1. Low Self-Esteem: The constant battle with bulimia can erode self-esteem and self-worth, leading to feelings of guilt and shame.

2. Social Isolation: The secrecy and shame associated with bulimia may lead to social withdrawal and isolation.

3. Emotional Turmoil: Coping with the emotional rollercoaster of bulimia can be overwhelming, causing mood swings and emotional instability.

Recovery from Bulimia: A Ray of Hope

The journey to recovery from bulimia is not easy, but it is certainly possible. Sarah and I have helped countless clients achieve full recovery from their eating disorders, and we both believe that full recovery is possible for anybody. 

Recovery Strategies:

  • Therapy: Therapy is often a necessary step to addressing the root cause of eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. There is a multitude of fabulous eating disorder specialized therapists in the United States, and there may be a good chance you can find someone in network with your health insurance. You can find local eating disorder specialized therapists through the National Alliance for Eating Disorders website. 

  • Nutritional Counseling: Registered dieticians can help individuals develop a healthy relationship with food and overcome disordered eating behaviors. 

  • Support Groups: Joining support groups can be a great way to connect with others who understand your struggle and provide encouragement. You can find virtual support groups through the National Alliance for Eating Disorders website. 

  • Conquering Bulimia online course: Conquering Bulimia provides a private online space to recover on your terms. In the course, we share personal recovery stories and interview leading experts in the eating disorder recovery field. 

The Path to Recovery

In conclusion, there are many short-term and potentially long-term side effects of struggling with bulimia. However, full recovery IS possible. Our mission at Conquering Bulimia is to inspire you to take action and embark on a journey to a healthier, happier life-the life of freedom and peace that you deserve. 

Download Conquering Bulimia today to take the first step towards recovery. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is bulimia nervosa? Here is the current criteria for bulimia:

  1. Recurrent episodes of binge eating, as characterized by both a and b:
  2. a) Eating, within any 2-hour period, an amount of food that is definitively larger than what most individuals would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
  3. b) A feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one eats.
  4. Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as “Purge Type:” self-induced vomiting and “Non-Purge Type:” misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications; fasting or excessive exercise.

2. Are the side effects of bulimia reversible? Some side effects can be reversed with treatment and recovery, while others may have lasting effects. Sarah and I always recommend that our clients find an eating disorder-informed medical doctor.

3. What is the recovery success rate for bulimia? The recovery success rate varies from person to person but is significantly improved with professional help and support. Sarah and I both achieved full recovery and believe anyone else can too!

4. How do I know if I need professional help for bulimia? If you or someone you know is struggling with bulimia, it's crucial to seek professional help right away. Remember, it is never too late to reach out for help!

5. What is the role of Conquering Bulimia in the recovery process? Conquering Bulimia is an online course with 55 lessons, 16 assignments, and 6 bonus lessons. Sarah and I share our personal recovery stories inside the course. We also interview leading experts in the eating disorder recovery field. This course may be a way to kickstart your recovery, or potentially something you take in conjunction with meeting with your eating disorder treatment team. This course can be valuable no matter where you are at in your bulimia recovery journey. 


Author: Merrit Elizabeth

If you or someone you love is struggling with Bulimia, there is hope! Conquering Bulimia is a one-of-kind, private, self-paced online course led by Certified Eating Disorder Coaches who have both fully recovered from Bulimia. Use coupon code “RECOVERY” and receive 20% off now.

Go to: Conquering Bulimia - Online Course