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EATING DISORDER SERIES pt. 1: Anorexia Nervosa

You guys loved our previous 10 minute series (10 minutes of CODE BEAUTY) and we loved making them for you. Now, we’re back with a new series on Eating Disorders and to kick it off we start by going over Anorexia Nervosa. In this episode you will learn the symptoms, common findings on physical exam, risk factors, criteria to diagnose and treatment options as well as secret tips! If you want to listen to our episode now you can do so by CLICKING HERE.

♡What is Anorexia Nervosa?

  • By the DSM V it’s defined as an eating disorder with features of extreme fear of weight gain, adoption of dietary (i.e.: refusal to eat) and behavioral (i.e.: binge eating, purging, excessive exercising) habits to prevent weight gain plus an altered perception of your own weight.

Note: all of these behaviors need to affect your day to day life in order to be classified as a disorder!

♡ Causes?

  • Genetics, environment, peer pressure, emotional health

♡ Risk Factors?

  • Age (teens and early 20s)

  • Gender (females are more likely affected than males)

Note: In males this condition may be underdiagnosed since they are less likely to get help.
  • Other risk factors include:

- Family history (higher risk for those with first degree relatives who suffer from anorexia)

- Dieting

- Stress or major life changes

- Specific vocations and activities

i.e.: Athletes: like gymnasts, runners, wrestlers and dancers

♡ Symptoms?

  • Irritability, socially withdrawn, anxiety, depression, apathy or lack of emotion, fear of eating in public, amenorrhea, constipation, hair loss, dry skin, fainting or dizziness, negative self image and obsessions with food or obsessing with ways to avoid food such as, excessively exercising or eliminating certain categories of food!

♡ Physical Exam?

  • Low BMI < 18.5

  • Low blood pressure

  • Low heart rate < 60

  • Hypothermia or low temperature

  • Dry skin

  • Lanugo

  • Swelling in extremities (arms or legs)

  • Loss of muscle mass

♡ Complications?

  • Irregularities in periods, constipation, abdominal pain, low blood pressure, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, dehydration and sleep abnormalities

  • In severe cases metabolic disorders may occur, particularly in those who purge.

  • You can also exhibit other complications such as, arrested growth, delayed puberty, malnutrition, osteoporosis and electrolyte disturbances

♡ Diagnosis?

  • Lab work: CBC, BMP to look at the white count (for leukopenia), low platelets and to assess electrolyte abnormalities (especially in severe disease)

  • Order an EKG (which can assess electrolyte abnormalities that may lead to arrhythmias)

  • Thyroid panel may be important to rule out thyroid disease which can mimic some of these symptoms

  • Tracking a specific diet is also important. For example, if symptoms occur with eating gluten products then this can be celiac disease.

♡ Treatment?

  • Psychotherapy (i.e.: talk or behavioral), pharmacologic (with antidepressants or anti anxiety drugs)

  • Watch out for co occurring illnesses like depression or anxiety

  • Nutrition counseling and weight restoration monitoring should also be incorporated as part of the treatment plan

In some cases, we need to give vitamin supplementation depending on your BMI and electrolyte abnormalities but we won’t get into that here. If severe electrolyte disturbances occur with an extremely low BMI (i.e.: < 14.5) patients may need to be admitted to the hospital for monitoring and treatment.

Another treatment option that may be appropriate in some patients (those who develop osteopenia or weakened bones) is an oral contraceptive.

♡ Secret Tips

  • Take care of your mental and physical health

  • Watch out for those around you

  • Don’t shy away from seeking help

  • You are not alone

That's all for this week, don't forget to leave us feedback, rate, review, subscribe and send in your questions so we can continue to improve as well as, provide you high quality content.

Disclaimer: The Content on our podcast/website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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