Three Ways An Eating Disorder Harms A Teenager’s Health

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Unfortunately, eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are fairly common among teenagers. Often, the signs of an eating disorder are concealed easily, meaning the disorder goes unnoticed for many years. This can lead to several serious long term health issues including malnutrition, heart attack, and even death. Eating disorders can have devastating consequences on individuals and their families, so you must recognize the signs and protect your teenager. 

With this in mind, here are three ways that an eating disorder can harm a teenager’s health. 

1. Cardiovascular issues 

An eating disorder can have a significant impact on your teenager’s cardiovascular health. According to experts at Northwestern Medicine – “heart damage is the most common cause of hospitalization in patients with anorexia nervosa.” This is because anorexia starves the body of essential nutrients and causes the body to slow down in an attempt to conserve precious energy. 

The heart becomes weaker and struggles to pump blood around the body at a normal rate. This can lead to extremely low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and death. Other eating disorders, such as bulimia and binge eating, can also cause issues with the heart due to increased blood pressure and an imbalance of electrolytes in the body. 

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2. Mental health disorders 

Eating disorders are mental health conditions that result from unhealthy thoughts or relationships with food. A teenager with an eating disorder is likely to have extremely low confidence and self-esteem. 

They may feel guilty or ashamed about their behavior and anxious to conceal the problem from friends and family. This may result in your teen becoming quiet, withdrawn, or refusing to take part in social activities they once enjoyed. 

Often, eating disorders are accompanied by other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. For that reason, treatment must focus on the emotional and social elements, along with the physical symptoms to be effective in the long-run. Fortunately, many clinics are offering professional support for teenagers suffering from eating disorders. 

For instance, Eden Treatment provides specialized treatment for teens suffering from binge eating, which is the most common type of eating disorder in the US according to healthline.com.

Source: https://eating-disorders.org.uk

3. Poor dental health 

An eating disorder can have a significant impact on your teenager’s dental health. Bulimia, in particular, can cause serious long term damage to your teen’s teeth due to the high levels of acidity from vomiting. 

This destroys the tooth enamel and leads to dental issues like erosion, cavities, sensitivity, and tooth decay. It is not uncommon for patients to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on dental work, repairing the damage caused by bulimia. However, it is not just bulimia that damages teeth and oral health. Food restriction from anorexia nervosa often results in nutritional deficiency which can lead to weakened teeth and bleeding gums. People suffering from anorexia also tend to produce less saliva which means they cannot properly neutralize the acid in the mouth. Again, this can cause dental issues such as tooth erosion and cavities. 

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