Signs & Symptoms of Bulimia

Bulimia can be difficult to identify. If you’re concerned you or a loved one is struggling with anorexia, this page outlines the warning signs and symptoms of this disorder.

Warning Signs of Bulimia Nervosa

Individuals suffering from bulimia will often binge and purge in secret and attempt to hide these behaviors from others. Additionally, because many individuals who suffer from bulimia can maintain a normal or even slightly above average body weight, even family members and close friends may have trouble detecting the signs of bulimia in someone they know. Therefore, it is important for loved ones to read bulimia information and understand the signs and symptoms of bulimia if they suspect that a friend or family member may be suffering from this eating disorder.

  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or the existence of wrappers and containers indicating the consumption of large amounts of food.
  • Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics.
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen despite weather, fatigue, illness or injury.
  • Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area.
  • Calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting.
  • Discoloration or staining of the teeth.
  • Creation of lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge and purge sessions.
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
  • In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting and control of food are becoming primary concerns.
  • Fainting spells, dizziness

Three Primary Bulimia Nervosa Symptoms

  • Regular intake of large amounts of food in a discrete period of time accompanied by a sense of loss of control over eating behavior.
  • Regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse.
  • Extreme concern with body weight and shape.
  • Fasts and or compulsive exercise

The chance for recovery increases the earlier a binge eating disorder, such as bulimia, is detected. Therefore, it is important to be aware of some of the warning signs of bulimia nervosa.

Come in with an open mind and remember your goals, the person you want to be. It’s a second chance at life!

– A Former Resident
Marks of Quality Care
  • Eating Disorder Coalition of Iowa
  • International Association Of Eating Disorders Professionals (IAEDP)
  • National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)
  • National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
  • RenewED, Eating Disorders Support
  • Residential Eating Disorders Consortium
  • Washington University in St. Louis