Anorexia Nervosa: How Early Detection Can Save A Life

Anorexia Nervosa is a serious eating disorder that is seen in both men and women,Anorexia Nervosa Picture encompassing multiple age groups. It is characterized by these key factors; unwilling to maintain a normal body weight, irrational fear of weight gain, and a highly distorted body image1. This eating disorder stems from the fear of looking fat. This makes eating an anxiety filled, highly stressful undertaking1. Thoughts of diet and exercise will begin to consume your thoughts, taking these normal practices to an extreme and dangerous place.

Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include; cutting down food intake to lose excessive weight, obsessive compulsive behavior to prevent weight gain, poor self-esteem, and the inability to grasp the severity of the situation2. Unfortunately, many of these symptoms are difficult to detect and easy to hide. This is often the case with someone who suffers from anorexia. This eating disorder has such an overwhelming, negative effect on psychiatric well-being, that people try to hide their condition or are in complete denial. It is common for patients to wear baggy clothing to hide their slender appearance, keep weights in their pockets during physical exams, and lie about how much they’ve been eating in order to maintain control over their bodies.

It is important to keep your eyes and ears open when dealing with this disease. Adopting strict low-calorie meal plans or skipping meals altogether, covering up in layers of clothing, exerting body dysmorphia and refusing to eat in public are all red flags of anorexia3. It’s important to seek help if you notice any of these warning sights, as it can save somebody from a slew of health problems.

Most health problems related to anorexia stem from malnutrition4. Not giving your body proper nutrition can negatively effect multiple organ systems like the cardiovascular, endocrine, renal, reproductive, and metabolic just to name a few4. This can result in serious health concerns such as hypothermia, osteoporosis, hypokalemia, hyponatremia, and hypoglycemia4. The disease can be fatal as a result of health complications. It is reported that 1 in 200 women will get anorexia, 5 – 20% of these people will die from it and of half will be from suicide1.

The best way to overcome anorexia nervosa is a combination of medicine, psychotherapy, and family therapy5. A big obstacle in the fight against this disease and eating disorders in general, is identifying if someone is actually battling the disease. As mentioned earlier, people with anorexia often try to hide the fact that they even have it. Half of those with an eating disorder are diagnosed by their primary care physician6. Patients with this disorder often go to see their primary care doctor more than their peers for reasons not related to the condition6. It often takes several doctor visits before their eating disorder is recognized. Unfortunately, this delay in diagnosis can have detrimental effects on the patients health. So how can physicians pick up on anorexia before it turns fatal? Use a body composition analyzer such as the seca mBCA 514 or mBCA 525 to monitor decreased fat and muscle mass, or detect a low phase angle that may be caused by irregularities in somatic cells. These devices are proven to provide accurate measurements for a variety of parameters, giving healthcare professionals the data they need to better assess their patients. Early detection of these signs can make treatment and recovery that much easier, it can even save a life.


1Smith, Melinda, and Lawrence Robinson. “Anorexia Nervosa Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.” Trusted Guide to Mental, Emotional & Social Health. Ed. Jeanne Segal., 15 May 2016. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.

2Hamilton, Caitlin. “Anorexia Nervosa.” NEDA Feeding Hope. National Eating Disorder Association, 21 June 2014. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.

3Hensrud, Donald, Jennifer Nelson, and Katherine Zeratsky. “Anorexia Nervosa.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 4 Jan. 2016. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.

4Bernstein, Bettina. “Anorexia Nervosa.” Practice Essentials, Background, Pathophysiology. Ed. Caroly Pataki. MedScape, 23 May 2016. Web. 15 Aug. 2016

5Ehrlich, Steven. “Anorexia Nervosa.” University of Maryland Medical Center. VeriMed Healthcare Network, 23 Apr. 2015. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.

6Surgenor, Lois, and Sarah Maguire. “Assessment of Anorexia Nervosa: An Overview of Universal Issues and Contextual Challenges.” Journal of Eating Disorders (2013): n. pag. BioMed Central. Springer Science Business Media. Web.

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