Differences Between Bulimia and Anorexia


The two most common eating disorders (usually attributed more to females than males) are anorexia and bulimia. And although both are very similar, anorexia is due more to inadequate eating which in turn results in a poor caloric intake for the sufferer, and bulimia is where the sufferer vomits soon after eating which prevents both the digestion and absorption of the food.

Bulimia – (bulimia nervosa) is where the sufferer eats large amounts of food (often too quickly) followed by self-inflicted vomiting, the intake of laxatives, stimulants, or diuretics, and exercise (before food can be digested) as a manner to rid the body of its intake.

Although the condition has existed for many years now (the first recorded case was by a British Psychiatrist in 1979), bulimia is still considered to be a relatively new illness. And because of this, much data is still lacking on the prevalence of the illness, due in main to the difficulty of detecting it in a sufferer.

However, the little that is known about the disease indicates that it is more likely to be found in females who come from low-income families, athletes, dancers, and gymnasts. With the latter three being put down to the sufferer trying to achieve the perfect body.

Anorexia – (anorexia nervosa) is where the sufferer has an abnormal perception of body image, obsessed with having a super slim figure – resulting in the fear of weight gain. This is usually with an unreasonable/unhealthy restriction of food, often resulting in a rapid weight-loss for the sufferer.

The probability of a female being affected by anorexia is estimated to be around 1%, where as for a male it is lower at only 0.1%, however this is when the age range is between 15 and 20 years old for both.

It is strange that anorexia actually means a loss of appetite, however anorexic sufferers do not have this loss, and only appear to have it. As the intake of food is usually restricted by self-infliction.

Similarities between the two –

1. More common in females than males.

2. Bad breath.

3. Cold hands and feet due to fat loss, low blood pressure, and bad circulation.

4. Irregular menstruation.

5. Poor hair growth (telogen effluivium).

6. Poor nail growth, tender and painful (paronychia).

7. Severe depression.

8. Skin complaints such as: fungal infections on the hands (inter-digital intertrigo), all over body itching (pruritus), rashes, acne, dermatitis, color changes on the hands, toes and face (acrocyanosis), stretch marks (striea distensea), mottled skin appearance (livedo reticularis), and mouth wounds (angular stomatitis).

Differences between the two –

1. Sufferers of anorexia do not eat, while sufferers of bulimia do, although the bulimia sufferers do try to purge directly after-wards (most commonly by vomiting). With anorexia sufferers, the latter is not the case.

2. Sufferers of anorexia have a perception that their body is grossly over-weight, where as bulimia sufferers do not; however, they DO use extreme methods to achieve the super-slim body that they desire.

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