Medical Complications of Eating Disorders

Eating Recovery Center's Chief Executive Officer Ken Weiner, MD, FAED, CEDS, has a new blog post up on Medical Complications of Eating Disorders. While eating disorders are mental illnesses, starvation, bingeing, purging and over-exercise behaviors can take a serious physical toll on the human body. As a result, medical complications commonly occur in individuals with eating disorders. If not addressed in tandem with underlying psychiatric and emotional issues, these medical issues can result in hospitalization, long-term disability and even death. (1) For those suffering from medical complications related to an eating disorder, there is good news and there is bad news. First, the bad news. Unfortunately, patients and families often cannot rely on their community medical systems for effective treatment of the medical symptoms of eating disorders. A 2013 study found that providers are dissatisfied with their training in respect to eating disorders and their medical issues, citing a lack of skills, a lack of understanding of the complexity of eating disorders and a lack of resources for additional training and/or referral. (2) Despite the prevalence of medical complications among those suffering from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and related conditions, most practitioners are largely unfamiliar with these serious medical issues, which commonly include: (3) • Detox from purging behaviors • Gastroparesis • Edema • Liver function abnormalities • Eye pain • Swallowing difficulties • Electrolyte abnormalities • Osteoporosis • Constipation • SMA syndrome • Abdominal pain "The primary contributing factor to suboptimal medical treatment of eating disorders is the widespread lack of eating disorder training/exposure among medical professionals," explains Philip Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS, Chief Medical Officer of Eating Recovery Center, Glassman Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado and Medical Director of the ACUTE Center at Denver Health Medical Center. Widely recognized as the leading international expert in the medical treatment of eating disorders, Mehler continues, "Most doctors in America do not have the training to recognize and effectively manage the medical symptoms of eating disorders, and they often lack awareness of reputable experts specializing in the medical treatment of eating disorders to make educated referrals..." Read the full article.

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