What is anorexia?
Anorexia nervosa (anorexia nervosa) is an eating disorder in which those affected want to achieve or maintain a low body weight. The onset of anorexia usually begins in early adolescence or puberty. Affected children or adolescents are dissatisfied with their weight or their figure and therefore want to lose weight. Along with this, psychological and social factors are involved in the development of the disease.
According to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), around 3 to 5 percent of all adults have an eating disorder – This includes anorexia, but also other diseases such as binge eating.
About a fifth of children and adolescents show signs of eating disorders between the ages of eleven and 17. Girls and women are more affected than boys and men.
Physical harm of anorexia
The longer the anorexia persists, the more serious the physical and psychological consequences. A long-term deficiency has a negative effect on the entire organism.
- Metabolism: Due to the lack of food, there is a lack of energy, which ensures that the body switches to “low flame”. This causes the body temperature to drop, blood pressure to drop and the heart to beat more slowly. Many affected anorexics quickly and usually have cold hands and feet.
- Immune system: Due to the lack of supply also the immune system. The body is more susceptible to infections and diseases.
- Brain: Malnutrition causes a loss of brain tissue, which affects performance and causes headaches and difficulty concentrating. Fortunately, the brain substance also increases again with weight gain.
- Colon: Eating disordered individuals suffer from constipation due to the reduced intake of food and digestion being delayed and delayed.
- Skin and hair: Due to the lack of nutrients, the skin becomes drier, the nails become more brittle and the hair becomes thinner or can even fall out.
- Bones, Muscles and Teeth: The body breaks down muscle mass when it is given less energy. Bone metabolism is disturbed in connection with a lack of calcium, phosphate and vitamin D. As a result, the bones become more brittle (osteoporosis). Affected people who suffer from bulimia and vomit frequently have massive dental problems. Caries or even tooth loss can be a threat due to the acidic stomach contents rising up.
- Disturbance of the salt balance: Extreme starvation or vomiting upset the salt balance and vital electrolytes such as potassium are lacking. This can lead to cardiac arrhythmias.
Anorexia: Also promotes the psyche
Anorexia usually causes psychological problems, which are therefore part of the clinical picture. People with eating disorders often suffer from depression, compulsions, defenses or personality disorders.
In order to seek help, those affected can find out more about counseling and therapy options on the website of the Federal Center for Health Education.