Medical Complications of Anorexia

Starving, restricting, bingeing and purging can lead to irreversible physical damage and sometimes even death. Anorexia Nervosa takes its toll on every cell, tissue and organ in the body.

These are some of the medical dangers:

  • Irregular heartbeat, cardiac arrest, death.
  • Kidney damage, renal failure.
  • Liver damage (made worse by substance abuse).
  • Muscle loss.
  • Permanent loss of bone mass, fractures, fragile bones and joints. Osteopenia and/or osteoporosis.
  • Dental problems and loss of teeth.
  • Rupture of the oesophagus, damage to the lining of the stomach, gastritis, bloating and distension.
  • Disruption of the menstrual cycle, cessation of periods, infertility.
  • Delayed growth or permanently stunted growth for those developing anorexia in childhood due to malnutrition.
  • Weakened immune system.
  • Icy hands and feet.
  • Excess hair on face, arms, and body. Long, downy lanugo hair that may be an emaciated body’s attempt to be warm.
  • Dry, blotchy skin that has an unhealthy grey or yellow tint.
  • Anaemia and malnutrition.
  • Disruption of the body’s fluid and mineral balance. Electrolyte imbalance – loss of potassium can be fatal.
  • Fainting spells, seizures, sleep disruption, bad dreams, and mental fuzziness.
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), including shakiness, anxiety, restlessness.
  • Chronic constipation.