Anorexia nervosa is also called as loss of appetite which is an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight. People with anorexia place a high value on controlling their weight and shape, using extreme efforts that tend to significantly interfere with their lives.
To prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia usually severely restrict the amount of food they eat. They may control calorie intake by vomiting after eating or by misusing laxatives, diet aids, diuretics or enemas. They may also try to lose weight by exercising excessively. No matter how much weight is lost, the person continues to fear weight gain.
Anorexia is not really about food. It is an extremely unhealthy and sometimes life-threatening way to try to cope with emotional problems. When one have anorexia, they often equate thinness with self-worth.
SYMPTOMS OF ANOREXIA NERVOS
The physical signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa are related to starvation. Anorexia also includes emotional and behavioral issues involving an unrealistic perception of body weight and an extremely strong fear of gaining weight or becoming fat.
It may be difficult to notice signs and symptoms because what is considered a low body weight is different for each person, and some individuals may not appear extremely thin. Also, people with anorexia often disguise their thinness, eating habits or physical problems.
PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF ANOREXIA NERVOS
Physical signs and symptoms of anorexia may include:
- Extreme weight loss or not making expected developmental weight gains
- Thin appearance
- Abnormal blood counts
- Dizziness or fainting
- Bluish discoloration of the fingers
- Hair that thins, breaks or falls out
- Soft, downy hair covering the body
- Absence of menstruation
- Constipation and abdominal pain
- Dry or yellowish skin
- Intolerance of cold
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Low blood pressure
- Swelling of arms or legs
- Eroded teeth and calluses on the knuckles from induced vomiting
Some people who have anorexia binge and purge, similar to individuals who have bulimia. But people with anorexia generally struggle with an abnormally low body weight, while individuals with bulimia typically are normal to above normal weight.
Emotional and Behavioral Symptoms
Behavioral symptoms of anorexia may include attempts to lose weight by:
- Severely restricting food intake through dieting or fasting
- Exercising excessively
- Bingeing and self-induced vomiting to get rid of food, which may include the use of laxatives, enemas, diet aids or herbal products
Emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms may include:
- Preoccupation with food, which sometimes includes cooking elaborate meals for others but not eating them
- Frequently skipping meals or refusing to eat
- Denial of hunger or making excuses for not eating
- Eating only a few certain "safe" foods, usually those low in fat and calories
- Adopting rigid meal or eating rituals, such as spitting food out after chewing
- Not wanting to eat in public
- Lying about how much food has been eaten
- Fear of gaining weight that may include repeated weighing or measuring the body
- Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws
- Complaining about being fat or having parts of the body that are fat
- Covering up in layers of clothing
- Flat mood (lack of emotion)
- Social withdrawal
- Reduced interest in sex
CAUSES OF ANOREXIA NERVOS
The exact cause of anorexia is unknown. As with many diseases, it is probably a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors.
- Biological - Although it is not yet clear which genes are involved, there may be genetic changes that make some people at higher risk of developing anorexia. Some people may have a genetic tendency toward perfectionism, sensitivity and perseverance — all traits associated with anorexia.
- Psychological - Some people with anorexia may have obsessive-compulsive personality traits that make it easier to stick to strict diets and forgo food despite being hungry. They may have an extreme drive for perfectionism, which causes them to think they are never thin enough. And they may have high levels of anxiety and engage in restrictive eating to reduce it.
- Environmental - Modern Western culture emphasizes thinness. Success and worth are often equated with being thin. Peer pressure may help fuel the desire to be thin, particularly among young girls.
TYPES OF ANOREXIA NERVOS
There are two common types of anorexia, which are as follows:
- Binge/Purge Type – The person struggling with this type of eating disorder will often purge after eating. This alleviates the fear of gaining weight and offsets some of the guilt of having ingested forbidden, or highly restricted food. The compensatory purge behavior by the individual with Binge/Purge Type anorexia may purge by exercising excessively, vomiting or abusing laxatives.
- Restrictive – The individual suffering from restrictive anorexia is often perceived as highly self-disciplined. They restrict the quantity of food, calories and often high fat or high sugar foods. They consume far fewer calories than are needed to maintain a healthy weight. This is a heartbreaking form of self-starvation.
RISK FACTOR FOR ANOREXIA NERVOSA
Anorexia is more common in girls and women. However, boys and men have increasingly developed eating disorders, possibly related to growing social pressures.
Anorexia is also more common among teenagers. Still, people of any age can develop this eating disorder, though it is rare in those over 40. Teens may be more at risk because of all the changes their bodies go through during puberty. They may also face increased peer pressure and be more sensitive to criticism or even casual comments about weight or body shape.
Certain factors increase the risk of anorexia, including:
- Genetics- Changes in specific genes may put certain people at higher risk of anorexia. Those with a first-degree relative — a parent, sibling or child — who had the disorder have a much higher risk of anorexia.
- Dieting and starvation-Dieting is a risk factor for developing an eating disorder. There is strong evidence that many of the symptoms of anorexia are actually symptoms of starvation. Starvation affects the brain and influences mood changes, rigidity in thinking, anxiety and reduction in appetite. Starvation and weight loss may change the way the brain works in vulnerable individuals, which may perpetuate restrictive eating behaviors and make it difficult to return to normal eating habits.
- Transitions. Whether it is a new school, home or job,a relationship breakup, or the death or illness of a loved one, change can bring emotional stress and increase the risk of anorexia.
COMPLICATION FOR ANOREXIA NERVOSA
Anorexia can have numerous complications. At its most severe, it can be fatal. Death may occur suddenly — even when someone is not severely underweight. This may result from abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or an imbalance of electrolytes — minerals such as sodium, potassium and calcium that maintain the balance of fluids in our body.
Other complications of anorexia include:
- Heart problems, such as mitral valve prolapse, abnormal heart rhythms or heart failure
- Bone loss (osteoporosis), increasing the risk of fractures
- Loss of muscle
- In females, absence of a period
- In males, decreased testosterone
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation, bloating or nausea
- Electrolyte abnormalities, such as low blood potassium, sodium and chloride
- Kidney problems
If a person with anorexia becomes severely malnourished, every organ in the body can be damaged, including the brain, heart and kidneys. This damage may not be fully reversible, even when the anorexia is under control.
In addition to the host of physical complications, people with anorexia also commonly have other mental health disorders as well. They may include:
- Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders
- Personality disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Alcohol and substance misuse
- Self-injury, suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
HOMEOPATHIC TREATMENT FOR ANOREXIA NERVOSA
Alfalfa : Verueful medicine for loss of appetite.Helpful to tone up the appetite in a very natural way.Recommended for that patients who experience a loss of appetite accompanied by weight loss, loss of flesh and emaciation. Most suitable medicine for anorexia nervosa and loss of appetite with weakness, fatigue, and exhaustion.
Antimonium Crudum : Very useful for those who experiences a loss of appetite along with an aversion to every kind of food. But in some cases, the patient can eat acidic and sour things and has an aversion to all other food.Given when nausea and a bitter taste in the mouth are accompanying symptoms.There is thickly coated tongue.
Psorinum : Useful when there is a loss of appetite, but there is a constant thirst for water.There is belching that tastes like rotten eggs.Also useful for loss of appetite and weakness arising after an acute disease.Helpful to improve appetite as well as provide strength to the body.
China : Very useful medicine for reduced appetite with a sensation of fullness in the abdomen.Useful when a person feels full in the stomach all the time. There is bloating and distension in abdomen. There is an aversion to all food.Works well in cases where there is not a complete loss of appetite, but the patient feels satiated by eating very little.Most recommended medicine for a total loss of appetite during malaria.
Colchicum : Useful medicicne for loss of appetite.Helpful when nausea is present along with the loss of appetite.Given when a person nauseous at the thought or smell of food. There is feeling of hungry, but on smelling food, the appetite vanishes.
Ignatia : Useful medicicne for loss of appetite in patients who have lost their appetite due to depression.Mostly recommended when loss of appetite is caused from sadness, grief and depression.Suited to that person who feels sad and disappointed all the time, avoids the company of people, and feels exhausted both mentally and physically.