Bulimia and anorexia nervosa are two of the most common eating disorders, especially among young American women. The disorders stem from psychological problems that cause patients to feel an irrational need to lose weight and to be thin, regardless of their current body shape.
Anorexia nervosa is a disorder characterized by severely restricted eating habits and extreme weight loss. In addition to denying the body food, anorexic patients often cause themselves to vomit if they feel guilty about having eaten. In some cases involving women, the weight loss is so extreme that patients stop producing estrogen, the lack of which contributes to significant bone loss.
According to the American Anorexia/Bulimia Association, nearly 10 percent of all patients with eating disorders are male. Bone loss has also been reported in anorexic men. One in 10 anorexic patients die as a result of cardiac arrest, medical complications, or suicide.
Bulimic patients compulsively overeat (binge) and then purge by inducing vomiting. Purging can result in a ruptured stomach and cardiac arrest because of the loss of vital minerals such as potassium.
People who have both of these eating disorders may develop tricks or deceptions to cover up their problems, such as wigs to hide hair loss, extra layers of clothes to appear as if they have a normal body weight, and excessive cosmetics to make the skin appear healthy.
In a large percentage of eating-disordered patients, a correct diagnosis cannot be made until they visit a dentist for a check-up or other oral surgery. Some of the most common symptoms of anorexia and bulimia occur inside the mouth. The erosion of dental enamel, hypersensitivity to hot and cold, redness of the throat, oral sores, signs of malnutrition, and a mottling of the teeth as a result of repeated contact with acidic vomited contents, are all signs of an eating disorder that only a dentist might discover.
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