The health concerns of anorexia are substantial. With that in mind, how do you know whether you or a loved one needs to get admitted into an anorexia treatment center? Physical signs of anorexia nervosa are related to starvation. Anorexia symptoms also include emotional and behavioral issues that often involve an unrealistic perception of body weight and an extremely strong fear of becoming fat. However, people struggling with anorexia often disguise their thinness, eating behaviors, and other physical problems.
It can be difficult to notice and identify the signs and symptoms of disordered eating like anorexia nervosa. However, it’s essential to do so because anorexia health concerns can affect someone in both the short term and the long term. If you’re looking for an anorexia treatment center near Dallas, TX, contact Santé Center for Healing today. Call 866.238.3154 or reach out to our team online.
What Is Anorexia?
Anorexia nervosa, often called just anorexia, is one of the more well-known forms of disordered eating. It’s characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body size perception. Despite anorexia health concerns that scientific studies confirm, people struggling with anorexia often prioritize controlling their shape and weight through sometimes extreme efforts.
To prevent weight gain or continue losing weight, people struggling with anorexia typically restrict the amount of food they eat severely. They may control their calorie intake by simply not eating or vomiting after food intake — or even by misusing diet aids, diuretics, enemas, or laxatives. They may also try to lose weight fast by exercising excessively. Sadly, all of this is done despite the short-term and long-term health concerns of anorexia-related behaviors.
Anorexia isn’t really about food. In fact, it’s often an extremely unhealthy and sometimes life-threatening way to cope with emotional problems. When people have anorexia, they frequently equate thinness with self-worth. Anorexia, like other forms of disordered eating, can then take over a person’s life and can be difficult to overcome. Often, professional help is needed to return to healthier eating habits.
What Are the Short-Term and Long-Term Health Concerns of Anorexia?
1. Discomforting Short-Term Effects
Among many long-term effects of maintaining anorexic habits are some short-term anorexia health concerns that may discomforting but also ignored by people struggling with the form of disordered eating. Some of these short-term effects include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Always feeling cold
- Disrupted or loss of menstrual cycle in women
- Dry and yellow-colored skin
- Fatigue, lack of energy, and physical weakness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Lanugo, a layer of fine hair growing on the body
- Poor circulation
- Shortness of breath
- Skin disorders
- Slow heart rate
- Stomach ulcers
2. Cardiovascular Issues
Up to 80% of clients struggling with anorexia experience cardiovascular complications. Deprive a body of the calories and nutrients it needs to survive and the system begins to eat away at its muscle content.
If deprived of calories long enough, the heart — the body’s most important muscle — eventually loses enough muscle mass to weaken it, leading to many cardiovascular problems and even death. Cardiovascular issues associated with anorexia include the following:
- Cardiac arrests
- Mitral valve prolapse
- Poor circulation
3. Neurological Damage
This is a lesser-known negative effect of anorexia because most people focus on the physical effects of disordered eating. Brain scans in many studies have shown that severe anorexia can lead to structural changes in the brain. These changes can cause nerve damage that affects the brain and other parts of the body.
Once a person’s weight is restored to a healthy amount, these changes should revert to normal — in some cases, however, the damage could be permanent. Neurological damage issues associated with anorexia include the following:
- Extreme irritability
- Peripheral neuropathy in the form of numbness, pain, or weakness in the hands or feet
4. Reproductive Problems
This health concern affects women struggling with anorexia. When a woman’s body fat drops drastically, there will be disruption to her hormone cycle, which can lead to a loss of menstruation and the development of other reproductive problems. The good news is that most women regain their menstrual cycle and their ability to conceive once they work on overcoming anorexia and gaining weight.
If anorexia is left untreated for too long, however, the damage to the reproductive system may be permanent. And even if a woman regains her menstrual cycle after anorexia, she is still at a much higher risk of experiencing infertility and other pregnancy-related issues. Reproductive problems associated with anorexia include the following:
- Compromised fetal growth and low birth weight
- Hyperemesis gravidarum
- Obstetric complications
5. Skeletal Issues
The body’s skeletal system — composed of bones — needs vitamins and nutrients to grow and stay strong. When it’s deprived of essential vitamins and nutrients, such as calcium, the bones begin to lose density and start to weaken. As a result, this can cause numerous problems that may persist long after a person overcomes their disordered eating. Skeletal problems associated with anorexia include the following:
- Brittle bones
- Increased risk of fractures
- Osteopenia, which could eventually lead to osteoporosis
- Reduced bone mass density (BMD)
When Should Clients Consider Getting Admitted Into an Anorexia Treatment Center?
Over time, anorexic behaviors — such as caloric restriction, consistent malnutrition, and extreme weight loss — can take a more permanent toll on the body. It’s not just discomfort that people struggling with anorexia ignore after a few months or years of not getting professional help. In fact, permanent negative changes in their health may occur that are impossible to reverse.
Unfortunately, many people struggling with anorexia don’t want to undergo treatment, at least initially. They will need the overwhelming support of people who care about them and professional help to even start to consider overcoming their disordered eating.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing any of the health concerns listed above, you should seek professional help as soon as you can.
Ready To Learn About Santé Center for Healing’s Anorexia Treatment Options?
Are you searching for an anorexia treatment center near Dallas, TX? Contact Santé Center for Healing today by calling 866.238.3154 or reaching out to our team online.