The Hidden Dangers of Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa is the name given to a frightening eating disorder that disproportionately affects young girls. Triggered by many factors including a poor self image, stress and tension girls with anorexia are fixated with being thin.

People affected by this disease refuse to maintain a normal body weight for their age and height. They weigh eight-five percent or less than what is expected for their age and height yet deny that they are too skinny. In young women their menstrual periods stop while in young girls they do not begin to menstruate when they should; in men the levels of sex hormones drop dramatically. Generally anorexics fear gaining weight and becoming fat. Most anorexics also feel fat despite being confronted with evidence of low weight.

Anorexia is often accompanied by depression and strange behaviours towards food; for example, classing foods in groups of "good" and "bad".

If you suspect someone you know of having an eating disorder here are a few signs to look for: skips meals, always has an excuse why they cannot eat, prepares elaborate meals for others but will not actually eat anything themselves, is obsessed with what they eat - cuts out meats and any foods with oil or fat, eats only low density foods such as lettuce and tomatoes. Another warning sign is being constantly obsessed with appearance and weight issues. Some anorexics exercise compulsively. Practically all anorexics - regardless of intelligence, refuse to believe that they have a problem despite concrete evidence to the contrary.

Unfortunately anorexia can severely damaged the body's major organs and even the proper functioning of the major bodily systems. Severe weight loss can trigger heart attacks and strokes. Not eating properly can badly damage the kidneys and liver. It can damage the lining of the stomach, weaken the immune system, disrupt a woman's menstrual cycle and cause permanent loss of bone mass resulting in fractures and lifelong problems. Not only that but low body weight triggers excess hair growth on the face, arms and body and results in a grey, dull and blotchy complexion.

It is imperative to seek medical assistance immediately for anyone you know who has anorexia or any other eating disorder - their life depends on it.

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