Many physical changes can occur with anorexia nervosa. A large number of these may be attributed to weight loss. Others are complications related to purging.
Changes in body metabolism associated with weight loss leads to a lowering of:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Breathing rate
- Body temperature (which may result in feeling cold)
Other physical symptoms include:
- Thinning or drying of the hair
- "Lanugo" hair (a fine hair that develops on the face, back, or arms and legs)
- Dry skin
- Restlessness and reduced sleep
- Yellowish color on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
- Lack of or infrequent menstrual periods
Self-induced vomiting and laxative abuse are associated with physical complications such as:
- Swollen salivary glands (evident by swelling on the sides of the face)
- Erosion of tooth enamel, increase in dental cavities
- Body fluid loss
- Bloating, swelling of the feet and ankles
- Soreness or tears in the lining of the mouth or throat
- Constipation, stomach cramps
- Numbness and tingling in the limbs
- Dizziness, weakness, fainting
Anorexia nervosa can lead to serious symptoms, such as heart problems, seizures, and kidney damage. Death may even occur as a result.
Osteoporosis (the loss of bone mass) is common in anorexia nervosa. It can lead to a variety of problems, including a tendency toward stress fractures and other bone abnormalities.