What Your Doctor Should Look For In Your Child

Because of the range of medical complications and consequences of any level of eating disorder symptoms, it’s important to have your child evaluated regularly by her pediatrician while she is at risk. Some doctors are well versed in the specific health concerns that go along with anorexia and bulimia symptoms.

The Maudsley Parents newsletter shared some information I found helpful about what a doctor should look for when you suspect your child has an eating disorder.

However, it’s frequently surprising to parents how many highly competent doctors fail to recognize symptoms and/or don’t take them seriously. It’s not unusual for a well-meaning doctor to reassure a parent long past the point when the child needs help. Other doctors might not be aware exactly what to check for, or what tests should be run when assessing a child with eating disorder symptoms.
So if you suspect your child has symptoms of an eating disorder, make sure you ask the doctor to do these four things:
1. Rule out any other medical cause of weight loss, appetite loss, missed period or other physical symptoms (e.g. light-headedness, fainting) you suspect are related to an eating disorder. This can be done via lab tests and/or a physical (see number 3).
2. Obtain reliable measurements of height and weight and see how these current measurements compare to
your child’s typical position on the growth chart in past years (teenagers should be continuing to gain weight at a fairly consistent rate given their history. Maintaining the same weight, even without any loss, might be cause for concern if their height/weight ratio has changed significantly)
3. A complete physical (e.g., assessment of weight for height, blood pressure, heart rates, body temperature)as well as specific laboratory tests to check for signs of malnutrition, binge eating and/or purging. These examinations help assess the degree of illness, its chronicity, as well as rule out other possible organic reasons for symptoms.
4. High priority tests you should be sure to request include:
• Complete Blood Count (CBC)
• Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) especially all tests of electrolytes (sodium, potassium,
bicarbonate and chloride) as well as calcium and tests of kidney function (BUN and creatinine)
• Serum Magnesium
• Thyroid Panel
• Transthyretin (Prealbumin)
Your doctor will be able to give you much more detail about what each test measures and what the results mean.

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

Find a Treatment Facility Near You

Click on a state below to find eating disorder treatment options that could be right for you.

The information provided on EatingDisorders.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes and we encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician if they believe that they have an eating disorder. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of EatingDisorders.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

Copyright © 2008-2017 EatingDisorders.com.
Company Information

© 2017 EatingDisorders.com. All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of EatingDisorders.com's terms of service and privacy policy. The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.