Bulimia Nervosa (BN) is most centrally characterized by episodes of binge eating (consuming large amounts of food in a short amount of time whilst feeling out of control), and compensatory behaviors which are designed to prevent weight gain or changes in one’s shape or body tone. Body image disturbances are also a feature of BN, and an excessive emphasis on the importance of weight and shape is reported, with many men reporting intense distress at the appearance of their body. Compensatory behaviors may include self-induced vomiting, diuretic use, laxative, excessive exercise, fasting, and the misuse of certain medications such as insulin. Males are generally less effected than women, although the prevalence of BN amongst males in increasing. Typically, males are less likely to seek treatment and healthcare providers may fail to assess or diagnose eating disorders in males.
BN most typically onsets during adolescence, and early warning signs may include the disappearance of large amounts of food, secretive eating, frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, calluses on one’s hands/knuckles from using fingers to induce vomiting, and swelling of the face. The medical complications of BN typically include electrolyte imbalance, esophageal ulcers, and tooth decay. Unfortunately, the risk of death is also increased in BN, particularly due to suicide. However, recovery is highly likely in BN when undertaken with specialist treatment providers, with approximately 70% of those afflicted recovering over time.