Bulimia : Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Symptoms & Signs

In bulimia, eating binges may occur as often as several times a day for many months. These binges cause a sense of self-disgust, which leads to self-induced vomiting or excessive exercise.

Body weight is usually normal, although the person may perceive themselves as being overweight. In a person who also has anorexia, body weight may be extremely low.

  • Abuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas to prevent weight gain
  • Binge eating
  • Frequent weighing
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Overachieving behavior

Diagnosis & Tests

A dental exam may show dental cavities or gum infections (such as gingivitis). The enamel of the teeth may be eroded or pitted because of excessive exposure to the acid in vomit.

A chem-20 test may show an electrolyte imbalance (such as hypokalemia) or dehydration.


Review Date : 8/28/2009
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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