Symptoms Of Anorexia

Symptoms of Anorexia

This article looks at the symptoms of anorexia, an eating disorder characterized by a person’s refusal to eat food. As a result of denying oneself calories and nutrition over time many physical signs and symptoms may occur.

Medically speaking, signs are distinct from symptoms. Medical signs are something physical that can be objectively observed by a clinician or measured, such as blood pressure or weight. Symptoms, on the other hand, are the subjective experience of a person and cannot be objectively observed or measured by an outside party. An example of a symptom would be pain.

Signs of Anorexia

The specific signs that must be present to achieve a diagnosis of Anorexia Nerovsa according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) include a body weight of less than 85% of that expected for age, height, and sex, and amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is the absence of a menstrual period for three consecutive cycles in post-pubescent females.

Symptoms of Anorexia

The specific symptoms of anorexia that must be present for a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa are an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight, and a disturbance in the way one’s body weight or shape are experienced, as well as undue influence of body weight or shape on self evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight. These are feelings a person experiences and cannot be objectively measured.

As Anorexia Nervosa progresses, other medical signs and symptoms of anorexia may occur that are not tied to the diagnosis itself. For instance, some of the signs that may occur include orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure upon standing or rising). In addition, in advanced cases of Anorexia Nervosa, lanugo (soft, downy hair) may grow over the entire body. Furthermore, any electrolyte or metabolic disturbances that can be measured as laboratory values may also result. Low blood potassium (hypokalemia), low blood sodium (hyponatremia), and deranged values of Gonadotropin-Releasing hormone, Leutenizing Hormone, Follicle-Stimulating Hormone, and Cortisol are some more examples of signs of Anorexia.

Secondary Disease Symptoms of Anorexia

In addition, many signs may develop due to a secondary disease process as a result of Anorexia Nervosa. For example, if a person with Anorexia Nervosa develops osteopenia or osteoporosis (soft or brittle bones, respectively), their lower-than-normal bone density can be observed in x-rays and measured in t-scores. Or, if a person with Anorexia Nervosa develops any heart arrhythmias, these would show up on an electrocardiogram (EKG).

Symptoms that may result from Anorexia Nervosa include things like depression, low self-esteem, and poor body image. The negative feelings a person feels as a result of Anorexia, anxiety, and obsessive or compulsive behaviors would be symptoms of anorexia. Also hunger pangs, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, dizziness, and an intolerance to cold are symptoms of anorexia nervosa. None of these things can be objectively measured and so they are considered to be symptoms, rather than signs, of Anorexia.

Anorexia Nervosa is a complex disease comprised of a constellation of both signs and symptoms. Both objectively measured markers and subjective experiences combine to create the clinical picture of the eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa.

Related Articles

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.