Posted by Trupti Shirole on Wed, Sep 29, 2010  
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Anorexia nervosa is a medical term for appetite loss. It is a complex psychiatric disorder that mostly afflicts adolescent girls, and less commonly young women. Only 5% of anorexics are males (generally weight conscious adolescent boys who may be dancers or athletes).


The cause of anorexia nervosa is still unknown. It is a combination of hormonal, social and psychological factors. Convinced that they are too fat, victims begin obsessive dieting. Some adopt a very restricted diet while others become overly preoccupied with food. In some cases, if the anorexic does eat then they may resort to self induced vomiting or purgation to avoid weight gain.


As the disease progresses nutritional deficiencies develop. Menstruation ceases.


Physical indications of anorexia include-

  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness or hyperactivity
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Intolerance to cold


In more severe cases there may be cardiac arrhythmias, loss of the bone mass or kidney failure.


Death may occur in about 6% of the cases.




Anorexia often requires long term treatment by an experienced team comprising of a doctor, dietician and psychiatrist.


Hospitalization may be required in severe cases.


In the beginning the patient is given small portions of nutritious and easily digestible food like soup, egg, milk shakes or custard. Food intake is gradually increased.


Adequate amount of proteins are required for rebuilding the lost lean tissue, carbohydrates for energy and fats for extra calories. Calcium and multivitamin supplementation is usually given.


Anorexics are skilled at deceiving others about their eating and therefore relapses are common.


Close monitoring is necessary to ensure that the anorexic is having a well balanced diet.


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