Medical Complications of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia

Am J Med. 2016 Jan;129(1):30-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.06.031. Epub 2015 Jul 10.


Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are serious psychiatric illnesses related to disordered eating and distorted body images. They both have significant medical complications associated with the weight loss and malnutrition of anorexia nervosa, as well as from the purging behaviors that characterize bulimia nervosa. No body system is spared from the adverse sequelae of these illnesses, especially as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa become more severe and chronic. We review the medical complications that are associated with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, as well as the treatment for the complications. We also discuss the epidemiology and psychiatric comorbidities of these eating disorders.

Keywords: Anorexia nervosa; Bulimia; Hypokalemia; Medical complications; Osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa / complications*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / epidemiology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy
  • Bulimia Nervosa / complications*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / epidemiology
  • Bulimia Nervosa / therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans