Health Risks of Anorexia
People with anorexia face enormous health risks, including problems with the heart, mental health problems, and even death. In some cases, anorexia treatment can diminish, if not remove, these risks. However, some health risks, such as osteoporosis, can remain even after a person no longer has the condition.
Health Risks of Anorexia: An Overview
The most severe and noticeable anorexia health risks resemble those of starvation. The body reacts to the lack of food by becoming extremely thin, developing brittle hair and nails, dry skin, lowered pulse rate, cold intolerance, and constipation, as well as occasional diarrhea. In addition, mild anemia, reduced muscle mass, loss of menstrual cycle, and swelling of joints often accompanies anorexia.
Beyond experiencing the immediate health risks of anorexia, individuals can suffer long-term health problems, regardless of treatment.
These long-term health risks include:
- Heart problems
- Mental health issues
Anorexia health risks related to the heart can include:
Heart failure in people with anorexia is even more likely in those who use drugs to stimulate vomiting, bowel movements, or urination.
Lack of calcium places anorexics at an increased risk for osteoporosis, both during their illness and in later life (see Anorexia and Osteoporosis).
Mental Health Issues
Anorexia frequently occurs in conjunction with other psychiatric disorders. A majority of people with anorexia also have clinical depression. Others suffer from anxiety, personality disorders, or substance abuse; many are also at risk for suicide.