Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa affect all age groups. The people who are most commonly affected are those who are in their college student years (teenagers to early twenties).
Statistics published by The Massachusetts Eating Disorders Association relating to eating disorders in college students believe that 40% of female college students and 15% of women suffer from eating disorders and that it is increasing in male college students.
Early diagnosis and consequent treatment increases the chances of recovery. Still, countless college students only seek help after the illness is advanced. Experts suggest that college students endeavor to hide their disorder, that they and their friends may be in denial or are just unaware of the warning signs of anorexia or bulimia.
Anorexia or bulimia can cause damage to the brain, liver, kidneys, heart, pancreas, skin, bones and teeth (just about every body system or organ if left untreated). These eating disorders may cause heart, kidney and liver failure, osteoporosis, ulcers and death.
Anorexia drives college students to extreme measures so as not to eat and many exercise fanatically (well past optimal health requirements), weigh themselves regularly, frequently restrict social or pleasant activities and have few friends. Notwithstanding this, most are well aware of nutrition and calorie requirements for people in their age group.
Signs of anorexia include broken nails, thinning hair, denial of hunger feelings, fear of becoming fat, avoidance of situations involving food consumption or preparation, increased depression, irritability or anxiety.
Bulimia is a 'binge and purge' procedure (when a person consumes large amounts of food in a short time followed by forced vomiting) although it can also be a condition of only binge eating and no purging. Some students attempt to compensate the binging through excessive exercise and laxatives.
Students may actually maintain normal body weight, however they severely restrict calorie intake between binges. Physical signs include degeneration of the teeth from regular contact with stomach acid, certain types of hand calls from coercing vomiting, broken blood vessels around the eyes, swollen glands and stomach pain. Anorexic or bulimic women often stop menstruating. Further signs are hiding food, use of diuretics, excessive rigid exercise schedule, frequently smelling of vomit and evidence of large numbers of food wrappers and containers.
If this is familiar to any person reading this or someone they know, then take action without delay – the longer any eating disorder goes untreated the more advanced and critical the illness becomes. Full recovery may not be possible and anorexia or bulimia in college students (and other people) can mean death and is not to be fooled around with. Get professional help!