“Purging” is the name given to “inappropriate compensatory behaviors” or efforts to “undo” or “get rid of” food after eating. Purging can be a symptom of any eating disorder and can happen occasionally or after overeating and/or binge eating. When purging is the only eating disorder symptom, or when someone uses a purging method after eating a small or “normal” amount of food, this is called Purging Disorder.
What Is Purging Disorder?
Purging can take on an addictive quality due to the brain chemistry changes it causes and the feeling of “emptiness” or “lightness” it produces. Together these effects provide a physical and psychological sense of relief to someone who is using them in response to stress. This false relief is very short-lived and leads to the compulsion or need to do the behaviors again and again.
Although Purging Disorder may initially start as an effort to control body weight, it often has the reverse effect. One study showed that teen girls who purged throughout high school gained more weight over the four years than their non-eating disordered peers. Although an individual with Purging Disorder may experience weight fluctuations, because they may not be as dramatic as those associated with anorexia, they may go unnoticed and untreated.
Help For Purging Disorder
Purging Disorder has only recently been recognized as its own disorder, separate from the binge-eating/purging cycle associated with Bulimia. Previously, an individual experiencing Purging Disorder would have received a diagnosis of “Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified” or “EDNOS.” Now that Purging Disorder has its own name within the category of “Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders,” awareness that it is a serious disorder requiring treatment may improve.
Depending on purging method, consequences range from cosmetic to life-threatening. They include diarrhea, stomach cramps, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, ankle swelling, broken blood vessels in the eyes, cavities and other dental problems, facial puffiness, ulcers, bleeding or tearing in the esophagus, bleeding from the rectum and heart damage. Treatment is essential for anyone who is purging, so that dangerous conditions can be prevented or corrected.
Inpatient Eating Disorder Treatment
Recovery from an eating disorder is possible. It's happening every day at Remuda Ranch at The Meadows. For additional information about the treatment of purging disorder, please call to speak to an Intake Coordinator at 866-390-5100 or complete the form below and we will contact you with the information you need.