Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binging and purging, that is, consuming large amounts of food and then getting rid of that food through purging methods like throwing up, taking laxatives, or excessive exercise. While most people with bulimia know that bulimic behaviors have an effect on their weight, the reality is that many more of the body’s systems are affected negatively by bulimia. In this article, Canopy Cove, a residential and outpatient program in Florida would like to look at a few of the primary ways that bulimia affects your body.


Bulimia puts stress on the heart, making it susceptible to arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), weakness, or even heart failure. One of the things that bulimia tends to cause is an imbalance of the electrolytes in the body. Substances such as potassium, magnesium, and sodium are vital for many body functions, including the heart. For instance, potassium plays a major role in keeping the heart beating rhythmically.


Your esophagus was built perfectly for the one-way travel of food. Smooth muscle contractions in your esophagus go in waves that push food down until it makes it to the valve. This valve, called the esophageal sphincter, is also supposed to be a one-way valve to your stomach. While it’s possible that food can come up the other way, it’s meant to be for rare emergencies (like food poisoning and certain illnesses). Repeated exposure to stomach acid can irritate or tear your esophagus, and if you ever see bloody vomit, it’s a sign of a ruptured esophagus.


The enamel on your teeth can get worn down quickly by getting exposed to stomach acid. While your other body tissues can rebuild themselves and reverse much of the damage
once you recover from your eating disorder, you only get one set of permanent teeth. Don’t throw them away. Bulimia can leave your teeth with extra cavities, sensitivity to heat and cold, and softened enamel. It can also make your teeth more prone to being chipped and ragged, and it can lead to gum disease as well.


Many people with bulimia experience a near-constant sore throat. Your throat, like your esophagus, isn’t built for exposure to stomach acid, but even if you aren’t vomiting up your food, you can still have a sore throat almost all the time. This is because bulimia tends to lower your immune system, leaving you with the likelihood of experiencing cold symptoms regularly.

Digestive Tract

Your digestive tract can be damaged through bulimic behaviors. Hemorrhoids are one of the common complications that people experience through purging using laxatives.


If you purge with vomiting, your salivary glands can get damaged by stomach acid, making your cheeks and jaws look puffy.


Vomiting puts strain and pressure on your eyes, resulting in redness of your eyes at minimum, but also putting you at risk of complications like burst blood vessels or retinal detachment.


If you purge using laxatives, you can dehydrate your body, putting extra stress on your kidneys. Untreated bulimia can put you at risk of complete kidney failure.

Bulimia is something that overtakes your life and can affect your body greatly. Recovery is possible! Canopy Cove specializes in treating women and girls with eating disorders at our 55-acre horse farm in Florida. Please give us a call!