7 Common Health Risks Posed By Anorexia Nervosa In Adults

Updated on December 30, 2021

Anorexia Nervosa is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder, but we can easily treat it. 

We know what you are thinking.

People who undergo anorexia nervosa have an obsessive fear of gaining weight, which is why they restrict their eating habits. 

Hence, if you want to treat someone with anorexia nervosa, you must treat their psychology.

Seems challenging, right? That is why you can take these patients to Ocean Recovery to get all the professional help you need from there. 

Let’s find out more details about it here.

What Is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder where people limit the number of calories they eat. Eventually, they lose their body weight so much that they look pale compared to their height and age.

The practice of eating less ultimately shrinks the stomach, and it means people cannot eat much even if they want to. This is unhealthy because it compromises someone’s physical health. 

As individuals with anorexia nervosa have an unexplainable fear of gaining weight, they often exercise aggressively or vomit the food they ate to avoid calories.

This is why anorexia nervosa is a critical health issue. Extreme weight loss in people leads to dangerous health issues and even death.

Common Health Risks Posed By Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia can affect people of any age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. However, it affects young adult women and adolescents the most because they are comparatively more concerned about their body image. 

Let’s look at the common health risks posed by Anorexia nervosa:

1: Anemia

Anorexia is a significant contributor to anemia because people who have anemia lack enough red blood cells to carry the oxygen to body tissues. It causes people to feel weak, dizzy, tired, and exhausted.

As anorexic people consume less food, they lack iron to produce enough red blood cells. Even people who don’t eat meat, or fish, also possess the risk of less iron. 

Thus, anorexic people are at significant risk of anemia. 

2: Heart Problems

People with anorexia nervosa are at more risk of developing heart problems. This is because the heart keeps on becoming weaker and smaller, which decreases its ability to circulate blood at a healthy rate. 

Thus, the weak muscles can’t pump enough blood, which causes an abnormally slow heart rate.

We have already mentioned that anorexia causes a lack of red blood cells. This means it reduces blood pressure and eventually causes a slow heart rate. 

Hence, anorexic people are more vulnerable to heart problems than others. 

3: Osteoporosis

When you suffer from anorexia nervosa, it automatically increases your risk of broken bones and osteoporosis. In addition, since your body consumes less iron, it weakens your bone density. 

Low bone mass is common in people with osteoporosis.

If teenage girls suffer from anorexia nervosa, they will have an increased risk of osteoporosis. 

They are less likely to reach their peak bone density because they change their healthy eating habits from the earliest onset in life, which causes bone problems in the future. 

4: Electrolyte Abnormalities

The weight-regulatory and under-nutrition behaviors in anorexic people cause vomiting and laxative abuse to the extent that people face significant electrolyte abnormalities. 

It is one of the many biochemical problems people face with this disease.

One of the most prevalent electrolyte abnormalities anorexic people face is hypokalemia. It reduces the potassium level in the blood that causes diarrhea, vomiting, and adrenal gland disorders.

It can even make the muscles feel cramped, twitched, weak, and even paralyzed. 

5: Kidney Problems

People with anorexia nervosa are at an increased risk of facing acute kidney injuries and chronic kidney diseases. 

Even nephrolithiasis and electrolyte abnormalities are the major types of kidney problems people face with this disease.

The toxic circle of binge eating and starvation can cause extreme vitamin deficiency, which leads to electrolyte imbalance. In addition, it reduces the kidney’s ability to remove toxins from the body, which may make your body a trash can. 

6: Absence Of Period (In Females)

The absence of a period is medically known as amenorrhea. 

Women with anorexia nervosa often undergo this disease because anorexia nervosa leads to extreme weight loss, suppressing the regular menstrual cycle.

When your nutrition is poor, your menstrual cycle gets affected drastically, and even severely restricting the calorie intake does the same thing. 

7: Decreased Testosterone (In Males)

Men with anorexia nervosa often suffer from a decreased testosterone problem. 

Testosterone keeps their muscles and bones strong, so when they face this issue, their muscles become fragile, and their bone density hampers too.

This means anorexic men can lift as many weights as they want, but if their testosterone level is low, it will not help them build muscles. 

Men may showcase a solid need to control their bodies, but the lack of testosterone won’t let them do that. 

Hence, it causes significant problems in their confidence and body image. 

Treatment Options

One of the biggest challenges in anorexia treatment is making people realize that they have an illness and helping them accept it. If they accept the disease and are ready to take part in the treatment process, there are some options we can look upto; such as:

1: Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is an individual counseling process targeted to change the way people think. It will tailor the treatment process and help people alter their attitude towards healthy eating. There are several kinds of psychotherapy involved in the anorexia treatment process, such as:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
  • Cognitive Remediation Therapy.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
  • Family-Based Therapy.
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy.

2: Medication

People with anorexia nervosa often face anxiety and depression about their body weight and eating habits. Hence, some medications can be prescribed to control that anxious behavior. 

Doctors often prescribe the antipsychotic medication olanzapine to regain weight.

3: Nutrition Counselling

Nutrition counseling is one of the most healthy approaches to treat anorexia nervosa. It involves a technique that will teach people about healthy body weight and healthy eating habits. 

It will also teach them the importance of a balanced diet, which will help them restore regular eating habits.

4: Group/Family Therapy

If your teenager is suffering from anorexia nervosa, going for family therapy is the best option. You should always keep the communication line open.

If you do that, when your teen daughter asks you how she looks in the crop top and skinny jeans, you can say something that will boost her confidence. 

Group therapy will teach you these techniques to express your honest feeling about your child’s weight so that she can get back on track.


We have already talked about the most common health risks anorexia nervosa poses in individuals. If you already recognize these risks, you can always check the treatment options and find the most viable one for you. 

For further queries, reach us in the comment box.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.