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Diseases » Anorexia » Complications

Complications of Anorexia

Complications of Anorexia:

Eating Disorders: NWHIC (Excerpt)

In patients with anorexia, starvation can damage vital organs such as the brain and heart. To protect itself, the body shifts into "slow gear": monthly menstrual periods stop, breathing pulse and blood pressure rates drop, and thyroid function slows. Nails and hair become brittle; the skin dries, yellows, and becomes covered with soft hair called lanugo. Excessive thirst and frequent urination may occur. Dehydration contributes to constipation, and reduced body fat leads to lowered body temperature and the inability to withstand cold.

Mild anemia, swollen joints, reduced muscle mass, and light-headedness also commonly occur in anorexia. If the disorder becomes severe, patients may lose calcium from their bones, making them brittle and prone to breakage. They may also experience irregular heart rhythms and heart failure. In some patients, the brain shrinks, causing personality changes. Fortunately, this condition can be reversed when normal weight is reestablished. (Source: excerpt from Eating Disorders: NWHIC)

Fact Sheet Eating Disorders: NWHIC (Excerpt)

The most severe and noticeable consequences of anorexia nervosa resemble those of starvation. The body reacts to the lack of food by becoming extremely thin, developing brittle hair and nails, dry skin, lowered pulse rate, cold intolerance, and constipation as well as occasional diarrhea. In addition, mild anemia, reduced muscle mass, loss of menstrual cycle and swelling of joints often accompany anorexia.

Beyond experiencing the immediate effects of anorexia nervosa, individuals suffer long-term consequences throughout the life cycle, regardless of treatment. In addition to the risks of recurrence, malnutrition may cause irregular heart rhythms and heart failure. Lack of calcium places anorexics at increased risk for osteoporosis both during their illness and in later life. A majority of anorexics also have clinical depression while others suffer from anxiety, personality disorders or substance abuse, and many are at risk for suicide. Approximately 1 in 10 women afflicted with anorexia will die of starvation, cardiac arrest, or other medical complication, making its death rate among the highest for a psychiatric disease.4 (Source: excerpt from Fact Sheet Eating Disorders: NWHIC)

Medical news summaries about complications of Anorexia:

The following medical news items are relevant to complications of Anorexia:

Anorexia as a symptom:

For a more detailed analysis of Anorexia as a symptom, including causes, drug side effect causes, and drug interaction causes, please see our Symptom Center information for Anorexia.

About complications:

Complications of Anorexia are secondary conditions, symptoms, or other disorders that are caused by Anorexia. In many cases the distinction between symptoms of Anorexia and complications of Anorexia is unclear or arbitrary.


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