Purging Disorder

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Like other disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, purging disorder can cause serious harm.

Understanding Purging Disorder

Individuals with a purging disorder often purge, but do not binge, to influence shape or weight. Often pills or vomiting is used to purge the meals that they eat, but some people will use diuretics, enemas, or laxatives. Purging disorder is not part of the official list of eating disorders, as it is classified by the DSM-5 classifies as an OSFED, or other specified feeding or eating disorder. Although not listed in its own category, purging disorder is equally as serious as other eating disorders.

Compared to those with anorexia, those with purging disorder have a normal weight. Compared to those with bulimia, they eat very little prior to purging. They might feel as if they have eaten an excessive amount.

Commonly emerging in late adolescence and early adulthood, purging disorder causes individuals to have distorted reactions and perceptions of meal portions. They may feel as if their eating habits are out of control even though they consume small amounts.

Signs and Symptoms of Purging Disorder

As with anorexia and bulimia, there are signs and symptoms to look for if you suspect the presence of purging disorder.

  • Stained teeth (from vomiting)
  • Disappearing after meals for long periods of time
  • Avoiding eating in public situations
  • Diarrhea without gastrointestinal problems
  • Scraped hands or knuckles
  • Irritability
  • Increased anxiety
  • Mood Swings

Health Consequences of Purging Disorder

There are numerous health risks associated with purging disorder. Many of the obvious effects from purging are physical, but it can cause serious mental and emotional issues as well. Additional consequences include:
Commonly emerging in late adolescence and early adulthood, purging disorder causes individuals to have distorted reactions and perceptions of meal portions. They may feel as if their eating habits are out of control even though they consume small amounts.

  • Bone and gastrointestinal issues
  • Bowel dysfunction
  • Dental issues
  • Imbalances in electrolytes that can cause heart attacks
  • Metabolic disturbances
  • Rips in the esophagus
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Dehydration
  • Weak skin and nails
  • Inhibited immune system

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Treating Purging Disorder

There is not a specific course of treatment for purging disorder, but since it has similarities to anorexia and bulimia, the same method of care is often used. Most of the time, medication is combined with nutrition counseling, and talk therapies.

At Toledo Center for Eating Disorders we design a treatment plan to meet the specific needs of an individual with purging disorder. Our evidence-based interventions help individuals recognize and address the issues and behaviors contributing to their eating disorder. Our treatment process includes:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Mindfulness
  • Guided imagery
  • Family therapy
  • Group sculpting