Bulimia in Teens: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Bulimia is an eating disorder. Teens with bulimia are very concerned about body shape and size and are afraid of gaining weight. They may crave food and find ways to eat a lot of it fast. This binge eating is often set off by stress or an emotional upset. After overeating, teens with bulimia may feel guilty, uncomfortable, or ashamed. They may vomit, use laxatives, or exercise excessively to get rid of the food they ate.

Counselling to understand the condition and to learn ways to reduce stress is a big part of treatment for bulimia. Nutritional counselling can help you learn how to eat a healthy diet. It may help to have your family take part in family counselling so that they can support you. Treatment with medicines such as antidepressants also can help.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Follow your treatment plan

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Go to your counselling sessions. Call or talk with your counsellor if you cannot attend or if you think the sessions are not helping. Do not just stop going.

Learn to be easier on yourself

  • Remember that feeling bad about yourself and not having hope is part of your condition. As you work with your doctor and counsellors, you will start to feel better about yourself.
  • Make a list of things you have learned, things you have done that were hard for you, or things you have changed about yourself.
  • Do not blame yourself for having bulimia. Just work on getting better.
  • Learn to accept help.
  • Remember that your goal is to feel better each day.

Take good care of yourself

  • Get enough sleep. Keep your room dark and quiet, and try to go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Try to lower your stress. Manage your time, build a strong system of social support, and lead a healthy lifestyle. To lower your stress, try physical activity, slow deep breathing, relaxing your muscles, or getting a massage.
  • Do not use alcohol or illegal drugs.
  • Learn the early signs of sudden, urgent food cravings.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. A balanced diet includes whole grains, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and protein. Eat a variety of foods from each of these groups so that you get all the nutrients you need.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You are thinking about suicide or are threatening suicide.
  • You feel you cannot stop from hurting yourself or someone else.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • You pass maroon or very bloody stools.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You feel hopeless or have thoughts of hurting yourself.
  • You have pain in your belly.
  • You have an irregular heartbeat.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have trouble sleeping.
  • You feel anxious or depressed.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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