What are the Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia?
The earliest warning signs of anorexia (anorexia nervosa) can be very difficult to distinguish from normal eating or dieting behavior. Anorexia symptoms may also be concealed, attributed to other health conditions or dismissed as side effects of prescription drugs.
However, eating disorder treatment professionals can distinguish symptoms of anorexia from other medical conditions by identifying physical signs such as:
- extreme weight loss
- thin appearance
- abnormal blood counts
- elevated liver enzymes
- dizziness or fainting
- brittle nails
- hair that thins, breaks or falls out
- absence of menstruation (amenorrhea)
- development of fine hair on the extremities (lanugo)
- dry skin
- intolerance of cold
- irregular heart rhythms
- low blood pressure
- osteoporosis, the loss of bone calcium, which may result in broken bones
What Are the Warning Signs of Anorexia Nervosa?
Most early signs of anorexia center on preoccupation with food or dieting. Behavior may appear obsessive or compulsive, and begin to consume more time. Eventually, disordered eating patterns will become more noticeable to others and potentially disrupt schooling, career, and relationships with family and friends.
If you’re concerned that you or someone you love may have an eating disorder, watch for these early warning signs of anorexia:
- refusal to eat
- denial of hunger, even when starving
- difficulty concentrating
- obsession with body size and shape
- skipping meals
- making excuses for not eating
- eating only a few certain foods considered safe, usually those low in fat and calories
- adopting meal or eating rituals, such as cutting food into tiny pieces or spitting food out after chewing
- weighing food
- cooking elaborate meals for others but refusing to eat