I feel

Typical Symptoms Across Disorders*

* Disclaimer

Not all people with eating disorders will experience all of the symptoms described here. This website is not a substitute for expert professional care. If you have or suspect you may have an eating disorder, please consult your health care provider.

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Anorexia | Bulimia | Not Otherwise Specified

Enlarged Glands in the Mouth and Neck

Swelling and soreness in the glands in the mouth and neck. This is usually caused by throwing up repeatedly.

Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Acid Reflux (Heartburn)

Acid from the stomach goes back up into the esophagus (the tube that brings food from the mouth to the stomach when swallowing). This is also called "heartburn" because it feels like burning in the chest. Heartburn can be caused by repeated vomiting. Stomach acid can damage the lining of the esophagus and can even cause it to tear. This can be very painful and very dangerous.

Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Tooth Pain

Teeth can start to look clear or yellow from the breakdown of tooth enamel. This is caused by excessive vomiting. The acid from the vomit is what wears down the teeth. This can make teeth very sensitive to hot or cold food, and can be very painful. Bad eating habits and poor nutrition can also lead to a lot of cavities.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Dehydration

Feeling dizzy, weak or nauseous because of not drinking enough liquids or abusing laxatives or diuretics. Can lead to constipation, muscle cramps, fainting and abnormal heartbeat.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Red Eyes

The strain of excessive vomiting can make blood vessels in the eyes burst. This makes eyes look red and bloodshot.

Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Swollen Cheeks

Swollen glands in the mouth and neck can be caused by excessive vomiting. This can lead to swollen cheeks or jaws.

Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Russell's Sign

Scars or calluses on the knuckles from putting fingers down the throat and vomiting. Can also be seen as small cuts and calluses across fingers.

Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Overweight

Bingeing on foods that are high in fat, sugar and/or salt can cause weight gain. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, digestive problems, and heart problems.

Binge Eating Close   

High Blood Pressure and/or Cholesterol

Can be caused by having a diet that is very high in sugar, fat and/or salt. Increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or suffering from a heart attack or stroke.

Binge Eating Close   

Hair Loss/Thinning

Hair becomes thin or falls out in clumps. This can be caused by poor nutrition, which leads to a lack of vitamins and minerals that are important for keeping hair strong and healthy.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Breathlessness

Having a hard time breathing. The body becomes weak when it does not get enough nutrition, and it can become hard to do simple things. Even walking down the street or climbing a flight of stairs can make it hard to breathe.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Headaches and Dizziness

Usually caused by not getting enough liquids or nutrients in the body due to poor nutrition. Abusing laxatives or diuretics can also cause the body to lose fluids and nutrients.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Weakness and Fatigue

Muscles become weak because of poor nutrition. Not getting enough nutrients can also lead to feeling very tired and having low energy. 

Anorexia Nervosa Close   

Rashes and Pimples

A lack of minerals and vitamins can cause dry, unhealthy skin. Thinning hair, brittle nails and pimples can also be a result of not eating properly.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Joint Pain

Pain in the knees and other joints can be caused by bones not getting enough vitamins and minerals. It can also be caused by swelling due to fluid buildup. In the case of binge eating, joints may hurt from the stress of physical body weight.

Anorexia Nervosa | Binge Eating Close   

Gastrointestinal problems

Problems caused by poor eating habits include constipation, diahrrea, bloating, cramping and stomach pain. Using too many laxatives can lead to a buildup of fluid in the intestine called edema.  The edema can lead to ulcers (or sores) in the intestine, which can be very painful.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Delayed Gastric Emptying

If the stomach has not been used in a while (because of dieting or fasting), it may not be able to empty properly into the intestine. This can be painful. It can also lead to feeling very full after eating only a small amount of food. Other side effects include bloating, nausea and vomiting.

Anorexia Nervosa Close   

Constipation

Not being able to have a bowel movement. This can be caused by dehydration (not drinking enough liquids) or not having enough fibre in the diet. Can be very painful and can make a person feel bloated and uncomfortable.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Irregular Menstrual Periods

Being underweight can cause irregular menstrual periods or even "amenorrhea," which is a woman stops having her period. For women who are not pregnant, not having a period for 6 months is usually a sign of amenorrhea.

Anorexia Nervosa Close   

Mood swings, Depression, Irritability

Lots of changes in mood and personality. Often feeling sad, lonely, and easily annoyed or upset.

Anorexia Nervosa | Binge Eating | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Low Body Temperature

Body temperature drops because there is not enough body fat to keep it warm. Body temperature might also go down because the body is trying to save energy.

Anorexia Nervosa Close   

Low Body Weight

Dangerously underweight. Losing a large amount of weight and looking noticeably thin, usually from eating very little or not at all.

Anorexia Nervosa Close   

Bone Density Loss

Bones can get thin and weak if they don't get the right vitamins and minerals. This is also known as osteoporosis.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Lanugo

A soft, fine kind of hair that grows on the face and body. It is the body's way of keeping warm when there isn't enough body fat to keep it insulated.

Anorexia Nervosa Close   

Abnormal Heartbeat or Heart Attack

Heartbeat is irregular or heart stops working. An uneven heartbeat can happen when there is an imbalance in electrolytes (like sodium, potassium or magnesium) in the body. These electrolytes are needed for the heart muscle to work properly.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Slowed Heart Rate

A very slow heart rate can be caused by poor nutrition or starvation. This is also known as bradycardia. A slow heart rate also leads to slow breathing and a slow pulse.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Kidney Failure

Not having the right amount of electrolytes (like sodium, potassium or magnesium) can cause the kidneys to stop working properly. Electrolyte imbalance is usually caused by throwing up excessively or having a diet without enough nutrients. Diuretic abuse can also put a lot of stress on kidneys, and this can cause them to stop working properly.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Dry, Yellow Skin

Not getting enough nutrients from food and not drinking enough liquids can cause yellowish, flaky skin.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Anxiety

Feeling worried, nervous or fearful.

Anorexia Nervosa | Binge Eating | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Low Iron

Poor nutrition can lead to having low levels of iron in the body. This can lead to feeling very tired and having very low energy levels.

Anorexia Nervosa Close   

Low Blood Pressure

Not drinking enough fluids can lead to dehydration and low blood pressure. Low blood pressure can also be caused by throwing up after meals or abusing laxatives or diuretics. Side effects of low blood pressure include feeling weak or dizzy, and fainting.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Infertility

Changes in hormones can make it hard to get pregnant. Women who are pregnant will have a higher chance of having a miscarriage or having a low birth weight baby.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Swollen Hands and/or Feet

Can be caused by not drinking enough liquids or abusing laxatives and diuretics. The body will try to retain water, leading to a buildup of fluid in the hands and feet. Also known as edema.

Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa Close   

Weight Fluctuations

The cycle of bingeing and purging can lead to constant changes in weight. Weight will often go up and down by 10 pounds or more.

Bulimia Nervosa Close   

To learn more about different disordered eating behaviours, click on each of the eating disorders listed here:

 
 
 

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Latest Resources

What to Expect? A Family Orientation to BC Children's Hospital Eating Disorders Inpatient Unit.
Video or Presentation
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Resource Review
Fit with KRC Mandate: 
Does this resource address eating disorders in children and youth
Evidence Source: 
Author is a professional/consumer/parent/family member who is respected in the field
Is the information presented in an engaging way (well organized, clearly presented, includes pictures and/or stories)?: 
Yes
Is the literacy level of the resource at the 6-8 grades? - NOT applicable for resources intended for health care professionals: 
Yes
Is the resource current updated (i.e. updated within 5-7 years)?: 
Yes
This video provides children, youth and their families and caregivers with an overview of the Eating Disorders Inpatient Unit at BC Children's Hospital. Catch a glimpse of the hospital facilities, daily routines and see what an inpatient stay in the unit may be like.
What Are You Hungry For?: Women, Food, and Spirituality
Book
Resource Review
Fit with KRC Mandate: 
Does this resource address eating disorders in adults
Evidence Source: 
Author/resource is sponsored/affiliated with an organization recognized as an authority/well-respected in the field (ie: longevity of the organization, body of work)
Is the information presented in an engaging way (well organized, clearly presented, includes pictures and/or stories)?: 
Yes
Is the literacy level of the resource at the 6-8 grades? - NOT applicable for resources intended for health care professionals: 
Yes
Is the resource current updated (i.e. updated within 5-7 years)?: 
Yes
Offers an approach to resolving deep-seated food and body issues using methods adapted from Eastern mind/body practices. By Lynn Ginsburg & Mary Taylor
What is the History of Anorexia Nervosa & Bulimia Nervosa
Video or Presentation
See video
Resource Review
Fit with KRC Mandate: 
Does this resource address eating disorders in children and youth
Does this resource address eating disorders in adults
Evidence Source: 
Author/resource is sponsored/affiliated with an organization recognized as an authority/well-respected in the field (ie: longevity of the organization, body of work)
Is the information presented in an engaging way (well organized, clearly presented, includes pictures and/or stories)?: 
Yes
Is the literacy level of the resource at the 6-8 grades? - NOT applicable for resources intended for health care professionals: 
Yes
Is the resource current updated (i.e. updated within 5-7 years)?: 
Yes
Understanding Eating Disorders and their Treatment (Part 1 of 6).

BC Mental Health & Addiction Services

This is an agency of Provincial Health Services Authority, providing provincial tertiary mental health services to the citizens of British Columbia. Programs include: Adult Tertiary Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Services, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Women’s Reproductive Mental Health, as well as the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for children and youth located at the BC Children’s Hospital.

Provincial Health Services Authority

Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is one of six health authorities – the other five health authorities serve geographic regions of BC.

Ministry of Health

British Columbia Ministry of Health

RBC Children's Mental Health Project

RBC Children’s Mental Health Project is RBC's cornerstone “health and wellness” pillar; RBC Children’s Mental Heath Project is a multi-year philanthropic commitment to support community-based and hospital programs that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about children’s mental health issues.

BC Children's Hospital Foundation

Through a wide range of fundraising events and opportunities, The BC Children's Hospital Foundation is united with its donors by a single, simple passion - to improve the health and the lives of the young people who enter BC Children's Hospital every day.