Anorexia is a serious and potentially life-threatening disorder characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss. Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight when in reality they are starved and clearly malnourished. This distortion in body image along with an intense fear of gaining weight leads such individuals to engage in extreme behaviors in attempts to lose weight. Some for example, engage in deliberate starvation and excessive exercising; others attempt to lose weight by self-induced vomiting or misusing laxatives.
Although anorexia is known mainly for its effect on body weight, it is also characterized by several other damaging symptoms. Although symptoms vary from person to person, common side effects include dry and chapped lips, tooth decay, and bruises. Often times, individuals with anorexia wear long sleeve shirts and pants to cover up bruising. Thinning hair is also common among people with anorexia.
Along with all the visible symptoms associated with anorexia, the disorder is known to cause internal damage as well. In as little as six months, anorexia can greatly impact bones, causing lifelong complications. In fact, 90% of women experience loss of bone calcium and 40% experience loss of bone density. In addition, as the body itself loses mass, heart muscle loss occurs at a preferential rate, making the heart smaller and dangerously weaker.
Anorexia is characterized by many symptoms and has several adverse effects on the body. To learn more about anorexia, see our infographic below.