Anorexia Nervosa is the medical term for a condition in which the patient has an excessive and abnormal concern about body weight. The patient refuses to eat sufficient food to maintain a healthy weight or provide adequate nutrition. She may engage in bulimia, the practice of self-induced vomiting after meals.
Anorexia usually begins in the late teen years and is more common in females. Females with anorexia nervosa will stop menstruating.
Signs of anorexia detectable by the physician are as follows:
1. The patient’s weight is significantly below that which is considered normal for her height. Her muscle mass is clearly reduced, and the patient is weak.
2. The patient does not menstruate normally, either sparsely and sporadically, or not at all.
3. She may have poor dental health if she suffers from bulimia. This is due to the adverse effect on protective tooth enamel of gastric acid to which the teeth are exposed during vomiting.
4. The patient exhibits an abnormal psychological profile. She may be depressed, and has a distorted body image. She is perfectionistic and overly concerned about weight gain.
5. The patient exhibits abnormal behavior such as refusing to eat in front of others, or going to the bathroom after eating.
6. The patient has a dry mouth and is overly sensitive to cold environments.
Anorexia nervosa is a severe eating disorder with underlying mental disturbance. If untreated, anorexia nervosa can be fatal.