Bulimia nervosa, also called bulimia, is an extreme and potentially fatal eating disorder characterized by separate episodes of binge eating followed by “makeup” measures taken to avoid gaining weight and/or to induce weight loss, such as purging.
Binge eating in the context of bulimia nervosa refers to the uncontrollable and ravenous consumption of a large quantity of food in a short period of time.
Purging vs Non-purging
The two categories of bulimia are purging and non-purging. Although there can be an overlap in the methods used, roughly 90% of people with bulimia fall into the category of purging bulimia, which involves self-induced vomiting and/or the use of diuretics and laxatives.
With non-purging bulimia, the individual will engage in extreme exercise or diets, use of diet pills or stimulants, as well as fasting — as alternative methods to purging — to shed the excess calories and to prevent weight gain.
Bulimia nervosa tends to develop during adolescence and early adulthood, and the male to female ratio is 1:10. People who have a family history of bulimia nervosa are more likely to develop this condition.
Bulimia Nervosa vs Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is a syndrome of self-starvation involving significant weight loss, whereas patients with bulimia nervosa are, by definition, at normal weight or above.