What are the consequences of vomiting on a regular basis?
Cynthia Stocker, LCSW,
Clinical Social Work/Therapist
My approach is direct, kind, honest & collaborative. My clients appreciate that I help them in a way that cuts through the jargon and gives clear explanations.
Top Rated Answers
With bulimia, an individual will frequently cause themselves to vomit even though they do not experience any form of nausea. When a person attempts to self induce vomiting, they stimulate the chemoreceptor trigger zone (CTZ), a part of the brain known as the vomit center (this is the same area that causes motion sickness). The CTZ will then trigger their gag reflex causing them to vomit. Bulimia is a very serious condition and can cause many health issues down the road. If you frequently induce vomiting or know someone who does please seek medical attention as this can harm your body in many ways.
Here are just a few ways that frequent vomiting affects different parts of your body:
Repeated vomiting can cause dehydration which can cause hypotension (low blood pressure) and tachycardia (rapid or irregular heartbeat). It can also put a person at high risk of experiencing heart arrhythmias by causing low levels of potassium in cardiac muscles. If continued for an extended period of time, frequent vomiting can result in heart failure.
The esophagus pushes food down through smooth muscle contractions to a valve known as the esophageal sphincter. This valve is intended to be a one-way valve into the stomach. Frequently causing oneself to vomit can irritate or tear the esophagus. If you ever see blood in your vomit, it is a sign that your esophagus has ruptured. Damage to the esophagus can cause achalasia, where the esophagus is unable to pass food through to your stomach. In other words, it will become extremely difficult and painful to swallow. This can also cause a patient to regurgitate swallowed up food and projectile vomit, as well as heartburn and chest pain.
Frequent exposure to stomach acid can wear down the enamel of your teeth causing them to be more prone to cavities, chipping, and gum disease.
Bulimia causes dehydration which puts an extra strain on the kidneys. Vomiting frequently puts you at risk of total kidney failure!
Bulimia can lead to gastric outlet obstruction, which is an obstruction of the normal channels through which the stomach empties waste. This can cause severe pain and even lead to gastric bezoars which are foreign bodies found in the stomach as a result of ingested material. In other words, it is a hard mass of food that forms because your body is unable to remove the waste due to a gastric outlet obstruction. These may have to be removed through surgery or other invasive procedures.
Severe vomiting or reduced eating can cause low insulin secretion in the body. These cause ketones to build-up in your blood, raising the acidity level or your body. This causes a significant risk factor for developing diabetic ketoacidosis. This develops quickly and can cause diabetic coma or even death. Some early symptoms include Thirst or a very dry mouth, frequent urination, high blood glucose (blood sugar) levels, and high levels of ketones in the urine. If you are experiencing any of these, please get a physical exam from your doctor so you can work together to prevent any further development.
This list is not all-inclusive as everyone will have a different risk for other complications due to their specific medical history. If you or someone you know are suffering from bulimia please know that recovery is possible and talk to your doctor to find a treatment plan that is right for you. People find that visiting a doctor and following recommendations such as a physical examination or medicine helps them.