Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder. It’s also called bulimia. A child with bulimia overeats or binges uncontrollably. This overeating may be followed by self-induced throwing up (purging).
A child who binges eats much larger amounts of food than would normally be eaten within a short period of time (often less than 2 hours). The binges happen at least twice a week for 3 months. They may happen as often as several times a day.
Bulimia has two types:
Researchers don’t know what causes bulimia. Some things that may lead to it are:
Most children with bulimia are girls in their teens. They tend to be from a high socioeconomic group. They may have other mental health problems, such as an anxiety or mood disorders.
Children with bulimia are more likely to come from families with a history of:
Each child may have different symptoms. But the most common symptoms of bulimia are:
The symptoms of bulimia nervosa may look like other health problems. Make your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Parents, teachers, and coaches may be able to spot a child with bulimia. But many children with it first keep their illness hidden. If you notice symptoms of bulimia in your child, you can help by seeking a diagnosis and treatment early. Early treatment can often prevent future problems.
A child psychiatrist or a mental health expert can diagnose bulimia. He or she will talk with you, your partner, and teachers about your child’s behavior. Your child may need psychological testing.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment often involves a mix of the following:
Bulimia can lead to malnutrition. It can harm nearly every organ system in the body. That’s why early diagnosis and treatment is important. Some health problems it may cause are:
Health complications may happen during treatment. Because of this, both your child’s healthcare provider and a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) must be part of the care team. You as a parent play a vital role in treatment.
Experts don’t know how to prevent bulimia. But early detection and treatment can lessen symptoms. They can also help your child’s normal development. It can also improve his or her quality of life. Encouraging your child to have healthy eating habits and realistic attitudes toward weight and diet may also help.
Here are things you can do to help your child:
Call your child’s healthcare provider if your child has:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider: