What Is Anorexia?
In simple terms anorexia is loss of appetite. Many conditions may have an adverse affect on appetite. These conditions could have an acute or chronic nature. One example is the pregnant female who is nauseated and because of the nausea doesn't have much of an appetite. Another example is the cancer patient undergoing either chemotherapy or radiation therapy. These people very commonly are anorexic.
Appetite is controlled by the brain and certain hormones in the body. The main hormone that controls appetite is called ghrelin. It is secreted by the gastric cells that line the stomach. Some authorities suggest that ghrelin also plays a role in obesity or someone developing obesity because the hormone is thought to control such things as the rate at which your body burns fat and how the hormone tends to slow over all metabolism. The endocrine system also plays a large role in rate of metabolism.
Anorexia simply means a loss of appetite. Anorexia nervosa is a psychological disturbance that is characterized by an intense fear of being fat. It usually affects teenage girls or young adult women, although it is increasingly affecting younger females, as well as males. This persistent "fat image," however untrue in reality, leads the patient to self-imposed starvation and emaciation (extreme thinness). Victims of anorexia nervosa may lose up to one-third of their body weight.
Anorexia nervosa is difficult to treat and can be fatal. Between 5 percent and 10 percent of patients hospitalized for this disease later die from starvation or suicide. Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include a loss of 25 percent or more of one's body weight (for no other known medical reason), accompanied by a morbid fear of being fat, an obsession with food, an avoidance of eating, compulsive exercising and restlessness, binge eating followed by induced vomiting, and/or the use of laxatives or diuretics (substances or drugs that increase the discharge of urine).
Sources: The American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine, pp. 112-13; Diseases and ders Handbook, pp. 47-49.