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Bulimia is an eating disorder. Typically, this disease is classified by the sufferer's need to expel consumed food from the body by means of vomiting or laxatives. Typically, bulimics will go through binge/purge cycles where they will consume massive amounts of food (typically 5,000 calories or more in one sitting, and often up to 20,000 calories at one time) and then be so desperate and guilty that they will induce vomiting, ingest dangerous amounts of laxatives, or perform excessive enemas in an attempt to prevent themselves from absorbing the food.

About four of every one hundred college-aged women suffer from bulimia, and about half of all those who suffer from anorexia will develop bulimic (binge and purge) tendencies during the time they suffer from the disease. Bulimics tend to be extremely secretive about their habits, and will generally "suffer in silence" and keep their behaviors hidden from almost everyone they know. As with anorexia, the main demographic for bulimia is women in their teens and twenties, although cases of bulimic middle-aged women are not at all uncommon.

Bulimia is just as dangerous as anorexia, since it is just as depriving to the body. Bulimics tend to be either normal weight or slightly overweight, and their weight may fluctuate greatly. Other health problems associated with bulimia include severe tooth rot (due to vomit removing the protective outer layer of enamel from the sufferer's teeth), anal infections from use of enemas, swelling and soreness of saliva ducts from frequent vomiting, ruptures of the stomach and esophagus (often resulting in death when they are severe), buildup of fluid in the intestines, electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, abnormal heart function and heart attack, and decrease in libido.

Because of the stresses the disease places on the body, the body may stop functions like a monthly period in women, the immune system can drop, and the metabolism can plummet. In the context of body modification, this means that the bodies of bulimics may not be able to heal after piercings, tattoos, or rituals as well as non-eating disordered people. This is a serious concern, because the longer a body takes to heal a wound, the longer it is exposed to the chance of infection. Those who suffer from this disease are naturally encouraged to seek help to prevent permanent damage to their health.

See Also