At Chapel Hill Primary Care, our medical team is committed to helping you live a healthier life. If you have an eating disorder, one of our experienced, compassionate medical professionals will give you the information you need to manage the disorder. You’ll benefit from our evidence-based approach by overcoming your health challenges and staying as healthy as possible.
In the United States, as many as 11 million people have an eating disorder. This type of condition is characterized by restrictive eating habits and an obsession with personal appearance and weight. If you have anorexia, you might be trying to lose weight by eating very little food or getting excessive amounts of exercise. These weight-loss methods have serious physical and psychological effects on the body.
What is Anorexia?
Individuals with anorexia nervosa try to maintain weights that are below the norm for their age, body type and height. If you have this disorder, it might serve as a way to cope with the problems in your life. Maintaining an unhealthy weight for a long period of time takes a toll on the body and increases your risk of developing complications.
Signs and Symptoms
Over time, anorexia can cause physical and psychological changes to your body. You might become fatigued more easily than usual or experience fainting spells. Thinning hair, insomnia, constipation, low blood pressure, dehydration, lack of menses and swelling of the limbs are also possible symptoms of anorexia. You may also experience a reduced sex drive, social withdrawal, increased irritability, or a fear of gaining weight. If you are worried that a friend has anorexia, watch out for signs such as a refusal to eat, preoccupation with food or adherence to an anorexic diet.
Researchers don’t know the exact cause of anorexia, but there seem to be biological, psychological, and environmental factors that increase the likelihood of some people developing the condition. A genetic predisposition could make you more likely to have anorexia than other people your age. The need for perfection or control makes it easier for some women to restrict their eating or stick to excessive exercise regimens.
Long-term anorexia can lead to osteoporosis, heart rhythm disorders and other serious problems, so it is important for individuals to have a thorough medical assessment. Because anorexia affects the entire body, your doctor may recommend frequent monitoring or order blood tests to check electrolyte levels and vitamin levels.
In some cases, eating disorders require more intensive treatment at a residential facility, and a medical assessment can help determine if such treatment is indicated. Treatment of eating disorders requires a team approach, and your primary care doctor can make referrals to other professionals who specialize in these conditions, including therapists, dietitians and psychiatrists.
Chapel Hill Primary Care can also assist you with coordinating the services you need to recover from anorexia or any other eating disorder.