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When should I call my doctor if I have anorexia nervosa?

If you have anorexia nervosa and you are concerned about when to call your doctor, you may already be one step on the path to getting better, because people who have anorexia nervosa often don't realize they have it or deny that they have a problem.

People who suffer from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa often have a distorted body image and a fear of becoming overweight that causes them to restrict their food intake to a point of near-starvation. Often they don't call the doctor on their own behalf, but those phone calls are made by their family members and other people who care about them and are concerned about symptoms that they are observing. Some symptoms, including the following, are related to how a person feels emotionally and their behaviors.
  • You believe that you are overweight even when those around you, including possibly your doctor, say that you are underweight.
  • You think about food all the time.
  • You pretend to eat or lie to others about how much you have eaten.
  • You skip meals.
  • You weigh all of your food.
  • You exercise more than anyone you know.
  • You weigh yourself several times a day.
  • You take laxatives, diuretics and/or diet pills to try to lose weight.
  • You find yourself withdrawing from social situations, possibly because of a fear of eating in public, or because you feel you need to exercise instead.
  • You seem to be more irritable, depressed and/or anxious than you used to be.
Anorexia nervosa can also cause physical symptoms including the following.
  • You are underweight and/or have a body mass index below 17.
  • Your menstrual periods, which used to be regular, have become irregular or stopped completely.
  • You frequently feel cold.
  • Your scalp hair is thinning.
  • You notice increased body hair.
  • Your skin feels dry and has a yellow tint.
  • Your nails are brittle.
  • You are often constipated.
  • You feel tired often.
  • You feel weak.
  • You have trouble sleeping.
  • You have been unable to become pregnant, despite trying.
All of these symptoms may signal that you are at risk of serious complications from anorexia nervosa, and they are all good reasons to call your doctor. The earlier anorexia nervosa is diagnosed, the more likely that your treatment will be successful.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.