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Abdominal Bloating Caused By Binge and Purge Cycles

By December 17, 2012

I think that I may have a question that has yet to be answered! I am 20 years old, I have had bulimia for 5 years now. When I get stuck inside a binge/purge cycle, they typically last for weeks at a time, 4 or 5 days in a row. During these times, my stomach will sometimes become what I think is “distended” – it becomes hard, rounded and is constantly protruding no matter how much purging I do. Shooting pain may also go through it, I could almost liken it to the “gut rot” feeling, someone may feel the day after being intoxicated. I am wondering if I am being overly dramatic. I know it is obviously caused by my binge and purge cycles, but should this be something to worry about, or am I being too paranoid? – Thank you! S.

Dear S.,

You are not being overly dramatic. You have reason for concern.

Binging and purging are very hard on the body. Your stomach stretches and distends with binging, and then the retching with vomiting causes strong stomach contractions. The esophagus can be torn during this process. Your stomach also has muscle in it that helps with normal functioning and this can be injured in the process. Your “hangover” of sorts, is a reflection of the trauma your body goes through with these episodes. The abdominal bloating can be related to swelling that occurs after these times. I would strongly encourage you to get some help, but to also see your medical Doctor. Tell your Doctor about your eating disorder and share your concerns. That way, they can make sure that no serious damage has been done.

Brenda K. Woods, MD, FAAFP