Category: Bulimia

Anorexia vs. Bulimia: The Key Differences

Anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are both serious eating disorders that impact mental, physical, and emotional health.

Bulimia heart problems

Bulimia Heart Problems: How Bulimia Nervosa Affects the Heart

Bulimia nervosa (BN) and other eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa (AN), have a close association with heart issues and other cardiovascular diseases. [1] Indeed, some of the most serious medical complications caused by eating disorders are related to cardiovascular health. 

DBT for Bulimia | Proven Recovery Therapies

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a serious mental health condition that can have adverse consequences on someone’s emotional, physical, and mental health.

People at the park

Humana Coverage for Bulimia Treatment

Eating disorders like bulimia nervosa (BN), anorexia nervosa (AN), binge eating disorder (BED) and others are serious conditions, and often require focused care in order to overcome.

Assurant coverage for bulimia

Assurant Coverage for Bulimia Treatment

If you or a loved one are struggling with bulimia nervosa (BN) or other eating disorders, it’s important to seek out help. Unfortunately, treatment for these conditions is often expensive, so most people must consider insurance coverage when determining their next best steps.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Bulimia Coverage 

If you’re struggling with Bulimia Nervosa (BN) anorexia nervosa (AN), binge eating disorder (BED), or another eating disorder, it’s likely an unfortunate reality that you’ll have to deal with your health insurance company in order to afford treatment, with some plans offering better coverage than others.

Eating disorder treatment

The Relationship Between Bulimia and Trauma

For nearly as long as they’ve been identified, eating disorders were thought to be primarily social diseases, with sufferers developing unhealthy thoughts and behaviors under the pressures to look or present a certain way in society.

Person looking into the distance

Bulimia & Co-Occurring Depression 

Eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa (BN), are complex mental health conditions, which are developed and driven by a number of factors. But some influences are more closely associated with these disordered thoughts and behaviors than others.

Treatment for bulimia

What is Bulimia Nutrition Therapy?

Eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa (BN), anorexia nervosa (AN), and binge eating disorder (BED) are complex conditions with physical, emotional, and mental origins and consequences.

As such, eating disorder treatment is often multi-faceted in order to address these varying causes and contributions.

Online treatment

Bulimia Online Support and Virtual Treatment

The COVID-19 crisis spurred a dramatic rise in online therapy, but even before the pandemic took hold, virtual mental health treatment was becoming increasingly popular.

Bulimia recovery stages

Bulimia Recovery Stages

If you or a loved one are struggling with bulimia nervosa (BN), it may seem like recovery is out of reach. But it is entirely possible to overcome the unhelpful thoughts and behaviors that drive this condition.

Patient talking to an insurance agent

Insurance Coverage for Bulimia Nervosa 

Eating disorders like bulimia nervosa (BN), anorexia nervosa (AN), and binge eating disorder (BED), among others, are complex mental health conditions that can have serious consequences if left untreated.

Woman searching on her computer

How to Choose a Bulimia Treatment Program/Center 

Choosing a bulimia nervosa treatment program, or a program to help with other eating disorders like anorexia nervosa (AN) or binge eating disorder (BED), can feel like an overwhelming process.

Alternative holistic therapy

Alternative and Holistic Care for Bulimia

While there are many evidence-based treatments that are often used to help people struggling with bulimia nervosa (BN), some types of alternative and holistic therapy may also be able to help.

Acceptance and commitment therapy

Utilizing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Eating Disorders

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a type of psychotherapy commonly used to help people struggling with eating disorders of all types, including bulimia nervosa (BN), binge eating disorder (BED), and more.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for bulimia

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Bulimia 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common type of therapy used for treating mental disorders of all types, including bulimia nervosa (BN). It has a heavy focus on restructuring how a person thinks, teaching them to redirect, and, eventually, eliminate negative thought patterns in order to engage in healthier behavior.

Eating disorder resources

Bulimia and Cancer: What are the Connections?

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a serious mental health condition that can contribute to a number of consequences on someone’s physical and emotional well-being. And unfortunately, some studies have shown that one of the physical effects of BN is a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Research into the connection between the two conditions is still ongoing, and some unknowns about the specifics remain. However, what is known is that bulimia nervosa may be an important risk factor for esophageal cancer and numerous other health issues connected to the throat.

Does Bulimia Nervosa Cause Cancer?

Bulimia nervosa may not be a direct cause of cancer, but the additional stress it puts on the body—particularly that caused by self-induced vomiting—could make the body more vulnerable to developing cancerous cells. When found in the lining of the throat, the condition is called squamous cell carcinoma.

Bulimia can make the body more vulnerable to developing cancer.

The repeated presence of stomach acid in the throat can lead to microtrauma in the esophageal mucosa, or essentially tiny tears and other forms of cellular damage. This could eventually lead to issues like gastroesophageal reflux disease, which can further hurt the throat, and chronic physical damage. Similar types of damage have been previously associated with esophageal cancer.

Eating Disorders and Cancer

For people struggling with eating disorders of all types, there are also some factors that may lead to a higher risk of developing cancer.

People with eating disorders tend to be susceptible to substance use disorders, notably those related to smoking and alcohol. These are both noted contributors to cancerous cellular growth. [1]

Eating disorders also tend to lead to chronic nutritional deficiencies, and this has similarly been linked to the development of unhealthy cells or difficulty overcoming illnesses. 

Shared Risk Factors for Eating Disorders and Cancer

One study found a connection between disordered eating behavior and cancer that was strikingly high, with people who were previously hospitalized with an eating disorder having a six-fold increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. [1] However, researchers involved in the study noted some significant limitations of the findings, including a large number of overlapping risk factors between people with eating disorders and people who develop this form of cancer.

Those hospitalized with an eating disorder are 6x more likely to develop esophageal cancer. [1]

Indeed, the study posited that it was these shared risk factors that ultimately posed the greatest risk for people with BN going on to develop esophageal cancer, as opposed to the damage caused to esophageal tissue.

Are People in Recovery at Risk?

It’s difficult to estimate how long someone who has experienced bulimia nervosa or other eating disorders remains at an increased risk for developing esophageal cancer. The outcome depends on incalculable factors, from someone’s genetics and personal health history to the severity of their condition and other risk factors they may experience.

A Case Study

One case study found a woman developed esophageal cancer at 27 years old, nearly 10 years after her struggle with bulimia nervosa. [2] Again, however, lines get blurred when more details are considered. The patient, in this case, had also been a smoker for nearly 7 years and quit only shortly before her cancer diagnosis.

It may be so that chronic bulimia or chronic eating disorders—the terms used to describe more severe cases that last a year or longer—lead to a higher risk of developing cancer later on due to the increased time for microtrauma and severe malnutrition to develop.

Still, lacking further research, it’s unwise and inadvisable to make too many assumptions about why or how BN and other eating disorders can present a greater cancer risk.

Other Health Risks Associated With Bulimia

Unfortunately, esophageal cancer isn’t the only major health risk presented by BN. The condition has been linked to a number of symptoms and potential health consequences, including: [3]

Heart failure

Organ damage

Extreme mood swings

Dry skin

Yellowing skin

Dry and brittle nails

Dental problems

Sleep difficulties


Stomach cramps

Difficulty concentrating

Thinning hair

Muscle weakness

Poor wound healing

Weakened immune system

As BN primarily impacts the digestive system and causes nutritional imbalances in the body, this can cause a cascade of symptoms, which can lead to numerous health issues.

One of the biggest dangers of bulimia nervosa is the potential for a serious electrolyte balance, which can lead to death without any obvious warning signs. Similarly, BN can cause sudden cardiac arrest, which is often also deadly.

When to Get Help for Bulimia Nervosa

If you or a loved one are struggling with bulimia nervosa, it’s important to seek out help as soon as possible. By its very nature, the condition can make a significant impact on your physical and mental health, as well as your quality of life. 

If you’re not sure where to look for help, you can reach out to your physician or a mental health therapist. These trained professionals will be able to offer you advice about the best next steps and point you in the direction of qualified programs. A number of eating disorder hotlines also exist to help people access help and additional resources about these conditions.

Bulimia nervosa is a dangerous and potentially deadly condition, but it doesn’t have to be your destiny. Seeking out treatment can help you get on the path toward a sustained recovery and a happier and healthier future.


Brewster DH, Nowell SL, & Clark DN. (2015). Risk of Oesophageal Cancer Among Patients Previously Hospitalised with Eating Disorder. Cancer Epidemiology; 39(3):313–320. 

Shinohara ET, Swisher-McClure S, Husson M, Sun W, & Metz JM. (2007). Esophageal Cancer in a Young Woman With Bulimia Nervosa: A Case Report. Journal of Medical Case Reports; 1:160.

Bulimia Nervosa. (2018, February 22). National Eating Disorders Association. Retrieved September 13, 2022.

Medications to treat bulimia

Dangers of Medications When Treating Bulimia 

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a serious mental health condition, marked by periods of binge eating and compensatory purging behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting or excessive exercise.

Partial hospitalization programs

Partial Hospitalization Programs for Bulimia

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a type of treatment for bulimia nervosa (BN) and other eating disorders.

This level of care is essentially a middle-ground, falling between residential or inpatient treatment and a typical outpatient treatment program.

Inpatient bulimia treatment

Inpatient Treatment for Bulimia: What to Expect 

Many different levels of care can help people struggling with eating disorders, including bulimia nervosa (BN). No type of eating disorder treatment is “better” or “worse,” but rather more well-suited for someone’s particular case.

Bulimia and alcohol abuse

The Dangers of Bulimia Nervosa and Alcohol Abuse

Many people with one mental health condition will be diagnosed with a comorbid, or co-occurring, disorder. One of the more common comorbid diagnoses is bulimia nervosa (BN) and substance use disorder (SUD).

Russell's sign

Effects of Bulimia on the Hands & Knuckles

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is an eating disorder that can cause significant wear on the hands and the knuckles specifically, resulting in something called Russell’s sign (also referred to as “bulimia hands”). This occurs primarily because of the incisors repeatedly grinding against the skin when a person induces vomiting.

Person with bulimia and substance use disorder

Is Bulimia an Addiction?

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a mental health condition that manifests as disordered eating behavior. But it can also share many of the same characteristics of drug addiction.

Recent research has found similar connections in the brain that are activated when someone engages in a binging episode and when someone uses recreational drugs.

Anxiety and bulimia

The Relationship Between Bulimia & Anxiety 

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is an eating disorder and mental health condition that commonly co-occurs with other mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. 

When it comes to anxiety in particular, the condition can be complexly intertwined with BN, and either condition can lead to the development of the other. In fact, studies have shown that as many as 65% of people with an eating disorder also have an anxiety disorder. [1]

Anemia issues from bulimia

Bulimia & Anemia 

Bulimia nervosa (BN) and anemia are often linked, with an estimated overlap rate of more than 11%. [1]

The disordered eating and behavioral patterns associated with bulimia nervosa can cause the body to become deficient in a variety of necessary vitamins and minerals. When the condition leads to a low iron count, it can lead to anemia.

Bulimia and swollen glands

Can Bulimia Cause Swollen Glands?

Bulimia nervosa (BN) can cause a wide range of medical issues, including the swelling of certain glands. Glands in the throat and the face are often particularly impacted.

Stomach issues

Bulimia & GERD: Causes, Signs & Treatment 

Bulimia nervosa (BN) can cause or aggravate a variety of gastrointestinal problems, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

The stomach condition is most closely tied to purging type bulimia nervosa, which is expressed when someone physically purges the contents of their stomach, through any variety of methods.

Bulimia in men and boys

Bulimia Nervosa in Men & Boys

Though people tend to associate eating disorders exclusively with cis-gender women, these conditions impact people of all gender identities, including cis-gender men.

In fact, the number of males diagnosed with an eating disorder jumped up by 70% between 2008 and 2018. [1]

Bulimia and acid reflux

The Relationship Between Bulimia, Acid Reflux & GERD

While research is ongoing, there have been some studies and reports suggesting a relationship between bulimia nervosa (BN) and acid reflux.

If left untreated, this type of digestive difficulty can eventually lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a fairly serious, chronic condition that can also cause further health complications over time.

Person searching for information

The Effects of Bulimia on the Parotid Gland 

Bulimia can impact the parotid glands, which are salivary glands that serve a number of important purposes. Repeated purging can cause these glands to swell, which can change the shape of the face and potentially cause other health complications.