Bulimia Nervosa: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Bulimia, or bulimia nervosa, is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of secretive binge-eating followed by self-induced vomiting after eating (purging), abuse of laxatives and diuretics, or excessive exercise to maintain weight control. While the cause of bulimia is not fully understood, both family history and environmental factors are important.

Signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa include binge eating, compulsive behaviors (particularly related to food or eating rituals), changes in body weight, mood swings, and evidence of purging behaviors. Associated physical symptoms relate to the vomiting, laxative abuse, or excessive exercise. These can include irregular menstruation, deterioration of tooth enamel, trouble concentrating, sleep problems, muscle weakness, dry skin, stomach cramps, and thinning hair.

Causes of bulimia nervosa

The specific cause of bulimia is unknown.

Other bulimia nervosa symptoms and signs


Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating See Slideshow

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.