Anorexia Nervosa Essay

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Anorexia nervosa is a life threatening eating disorder defined by a refusal to maintain fifteen percent of a normal body weight through self-starvation (NAMI 1). Ninety-five percent of anorexics are women between the ages of twelve and eighteen, however, “…in the past twenty years, this disorder has become a growing threat to high school and college students”(Maloney and Kranz 60). Anorexia produces a multitude of symptoms, and if not treated, anorexia can lead to permanent physical damage or death.

Anorexic behavior is complex because it is all about the need for control. Someone suffering from anorexia has a distorted body image of himself or herself. He/she believes to be overweight, even though twenty percent of the time he/she is
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Severe symptoms of anorexia are classified as such because they result in devastating physical side effects and death. The dropping of body fat due to self-starvation can cause amenorrhea, an absence of the menstrual cycle. Amenorrhea can put stress on tiny bones that result in breakage if untreated and can interfere with fertility as well as estrogen, the reproductive hormone that protects the body against heart diseases and osteoporosis. The absence of the menstrual cycle from starvation can cause loss of bone density. Osteomalacia, the outcome of poor nutrition in anorexia, causes breakage of bones, and the lack of calcium intake to the body results in brittle bones. Kidneys will shut down if the body weight becomes low enough. The anorexic will go into kidney failure and die. Kidney failure is also caused by dehydration because inadequate fluid flowing to the kidneys can lead to cardiac arrhythmia. A normal heartbeat is also essential to the human body. A change in the normal pattern of the heartbeat may be a complication of an electrolyte imbalance produced from anorexia. The principal reason for potassium loss and an irregular heartbeat is an electrolyte imbalance. As a result of potassium deficiency, it is common to have muscle spasms, muscle atrophy, and pain. Muscle spasms and muscle atrophy are typical symptoms of a musculoskeletal problem, and if not treated, permanent damage can occur. Other severe physical…