A diagnosis is made via a medical professional’s evaluation.
Medical professionals diagnose bulimia nervosa when individuals, particularly young women, do the following:
- Report binge eating at least once a week for three (3) months or more;
- Feel out of control during and after the binge;
- Compensate for the binges by purging (for example, by making themselves vomit or using laxatives), by fasting, or by exercising excessively; and/or
- Express marked concern about weight gain and base their self-image largely on weight and body shape.
Medical professionals also check for other clues that support the diagnosis of bulimia nervosa:
- Wide fluctuations in weight, especially if there are clues suggesting excessive laxative use (such as diarrhoea and abdominal cramps);
- Swollen salivary glands in the cheeks;
- Scars on the knuckles from using the fingers to induce vomiting;
- Erosion of tooth enamel from stomach acid; and/or
- A low level of potassium detected by a blood test.