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Welcome to the Anorexia Health Channel by eMedTV. Anorexia is an eating disorder in which a person can literally starve himself or herself to death. People with anorexia believe they are fat even when they are dangerously thin. While women tend to develop anorexia more often than men, anyone can develop the disease. Treatment for anorexia generally includes therapy and nutritional counseling. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required.
Anorexia presents several associated health risks, including problems with the heart, mental health problems, and even death. What's more, some health risks associated with anorexia, such as osteoporosis, can remain even after a person no longer has the condition.
What Causes Anorexia?
While specific anorexia causes are unknown, factors that can increase a person's risk for developing the condition include personality traits, genetics, environmental factors, body image, and biochemistry. Because doctors and scientists are not sure exactly what causes anorexia, researchers continue to try to better understand the connection between identified risk factors and anorexia.
What Are the Symptoms of Anorexia?
Early anorexia symptoms include an obsession with one's weight and a compulsion to exercise. As the condition becomes more severe, symptoms of anorexia include an unwavering belief that the person is fat (regardless of how thin he or she actually is) and avoiding food. People who have had anorexia for a long time may exhibit symptoms like anemia, reduced muscle mass, and swollen joints.
While weight loss and obsession with food are the most obvious signs of anorexia, other symptoms of the disease include dressing in layers to disguise the weight loss or becoming secretive and isolated.
Can Men Have Anorexia?
People tend to associate eating disorders primarily with women, but men can develop anorexia, too. In fact, the numbers of men with the condition are growing. Male anorexia often shares the same characteristics as its female counterpart, including low self-esteem and preoccupation with weight. Men who suffer from anorexia say that more education is needed to make both the public and the medical profession aware of this growing problem so that men don't feel ashamed to seek help.
How Is Anorexia Treated?
Anorexia treatment varies from person to person -- there is no single method that works in all cases. Common treatments for anorexia include restoring the person to a healthy weight (this may require hospitalization in severe cases), psychotherapy, and medications. Nutritional counseling is also often part of the treatment plan. The earlier anorexia treatment is started, the better a person's chances of overcoming the condition.
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