What are the dangers of anorexia nervosa?
Health hazards of starvation:
Sensitivity to cold: poor circulation results in hands and feet becoming blue, mottled and subject to chilblains. Sleep disturbances: waking up early or several times a night. Week bladder: passing water frequently throughout the day or night. Excess hair growth on the body: particularly on the back, and the sides of the face. Poor circulation: slow pulse, low blood pressure and fainting spells. Thin bones (osteoporosis): with time, this may result in fracture leading to deformity and pain. Periods stop or become very irregular: it is usually only possible for women to have periods when 15% of her body is composed of fat. The stomach shrinks and feels uncomfortably distended after eating even a small amount of food: stomach ulcers may be a problem which persists after recovery. Gut function is slowed and constipation results The bone marrow fails: Red and white blood cells are not formed quickly enough which results in anaemia and susceptibility to certain infection. The lack of nutrition affects the liver so it is unable to manufacture body proteins. This may result in swelling of the ankles and legs. Blood cholesterol level is increased. This results from the lack of oestrogen (women before their menopause are protected from heart attacks by oestrogen) from abnormal liver function. Nerves and muscles become damaged. This may make it difficult to climb stairs, the feet may drag, and extreme fatigue and tiredness supervenes. In young children, growth may be stunted and puberty delayed. Low glucose: this produces sensations of panic or light-headedness. If ignored, this can lead to coma or death. The kidney is prone to infection and stone formation and may eventually fail.
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