What are the Symptoms & Signs of Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia (bingeing and purging) is an isolating, secretive illness that prevents many people from enjoying a full and rewarding life. We share the more common symptoms and warning signs for bulimia below.

Common bulimia symptoms

  • Bingeing more than one time per week
  • Purging more than one time per week, including self-induced vomiting, laxative/diet pill/diuretic abuse, excessive exercise, chewing/spitting of food, or insulin misuse
  • Bradycardia and orthostasis (a form of low blood pressure that happens when you stand up from sitting or lying down)
  • Low normal to abnormal labs; can include electrolyte abnormalities
  • Swelling of the cheeks or jaw area
  • Calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles (from self-induced vomiting)
  • Discolored or stained teeth (sometimes called "bulimia teeth")

Common warning signs of bulimia

  • Consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time (bingeing)
  • Use of behaviors to compensate for calories consumed, including purging (making yourself vomit), restricting/fasting, over-exercising or using laxatives, diuretics, ipecac syrup or enemas
  • Evidence of binges, including disappearance of large amounts of food or appearance of wrappers/packaging
  • Evidence of purging, including trips to the bathroom during or after meals, packaging of laxatives or diuretics, rigid adherence to exercise schedules, etc.
  • Feeling “out of control” or shame over how much you eat
  • Fear of gaining weight or being “fat”
  • Self-esteem and self-worth tied heavily to body shape and weight
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and “normal” activities/routines
  • Failing performance in work, school and athletic engagements

Recovery from bulimia is possible but it will require the support of a multidisciplinary team of medical, dietary and therapeutic specialists.

Get help for bulimia symptoms

If you are, or if someone you know is, showing symptoms of bulimic behavior (binging or purging or both), you should be aware that there are very serious health risks and complications linked to bulimia. With specialized treatment, a full and lasting recovery is possible.

Our eating disorder treatment centers have helped diverse patients of all ages get the treatment they need — and deserve — to break the vicious cycle of bingeing and purging.

Please call us today at 877-825-8584 to speak confidentially with an Eating Recovery Center Masters-level clinician. There is no cost to call us and discuss your concerns.

Together we can help you recover your life and enjoy a bright future.

Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Center are accredited through the Joint Commission. This organization seeks to enhance the lives of the persons served in healthcare settings through a consultative accreditation process emphasizing quality, value and optimal outcomes of services.

Organizations that earn the Gold Seal of Approval™ have met or exceeded The Joint Commission’s rigorous performance standards to obtain this distinctive and internationally recognized accreditation. Learn more about this accreditation here.

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