Anorexia Side Effects – How to Recognize the Symptoms of Anorexia in Children

Anorexia Side Effects

You suspect your child may be anorexic, but do you know what the anorexia side affects are or how to tell if your child has an eating disorder?

In a world obsessed with being super thin and forever young it’s no wonder that our daughters (and sons) are at more danger than ever before of developing an eating disorder before their 21st birthday. Because anorexia is so detrimental to your child’s health it is extremely important to know what anorexia side effects are so that you can not only recognize when your child might have a problem but also help them get back on the healthy track to living if they do.

Excessive weight loss is one of the most well-known anorexia side effects but there will be many more prior to the point of this becoming noticeable if you know what to look for. Remember that not all of these effects individually means that a child is anorexic but a combination of all of these may indicate that the child could have an eating disorder problem. Below is a list of the things you might observe if your child has an eating disorder . . .

Anorexia Side Effects and Signs of an Eating Disorder

  • Changes in Eating Habits – This is probably the first ‘side affect’ and most obvious indication that your child may have an eating disorder. Not all changes, though, are tell tale signs that it is definitely Anorexia but being observant of the amount of food your child eats over time can help you determine if there is a problem. Pay special attention to what your child is eating on a daily basis and if you suspect there is a problem with them not getting adequate nutrition then it may be time to sit down and talk with your child.
  • Fatigue – As your child gets less and less of the nutrients they need it’s inevitable that their bodies will feel fatigued. If you notice excessive tiredness in your child, speak to them about it in a way that is not confrontational but loving and concerned.
  • Abnormal blood counts – While this is something that must be done at a doctor’s office, if you suspect that your child has an eating disorder you can call ahead of time to request a blood test. Your doctor can then look for anorexia side effects and warning signs in the office.
  • Dizziness and/or fainting – When iron levels and other necessary vitamins are lacking your child may feel faint or become dizzy very easily. If your child complains of dizziness, have them drink a glass of OJ, sit down with knees angled and place their head between their knees. This allows the blood flow to return to the brain and helps to focus breathing in case dizziness is caused by anxiety.
  • Brittle nails, hair loss or brittle hair – Again, due to the lack of nutrition the body will begin to show telltale signs of a need for more vitamins. Lack of vitamins cause weak nails and hair.
  • Absence of menstrual cycle – These types of anorexia side effects are very hard for a teen to talk about. Because a lack of menstruation can also be a sign of pregnancy they may have a hard time talking to you about it from fear of making you angry. Try to refrain from jumping to conclusions and no matter what keep a supportive tone.
  • Seizures – Perhaps one of the scariest of the anorexia side effects, seizures should never be taken lightly. If your child has a seizure especially if he or she does not have a condition that causes seizures you should call 911 right away.
  • Irregular heart beat – This is one of the anorexia side effects that you won’t be able to see. However, you can teach your child to check her pulse and you can also do the same. If your child presents with an irregular heartbeat you should notify your doctor. Though many irregular heartbeats are perfectly safe, those caused by anorexia can be a sign that the body needs medical attention rather urgently.

When it comes to anorexia side effects and other forms of eating disorders, it is important to approach your child with loving kindness. Yelling will solve nothing and may actually worsen the emotional issues of a person with an eating disorder. It is also important to avoid beating yourself up for your child’s illness.

Parents are Part of the Solution

Family-centered care is a huge component when treating eating disorders. Dr. Rich Kreipe, professor in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center, shares the issues families face when their child has an eating disorder. The important thing to focus on is where you are and where you want to be, not what brought you here, he says. To learn more about Golisano Children’s Hospital’s efforts to enhance our program to better prevent and treat eating disorders, visit

Someone once said life is what happens while you are busy making plans and while it’s scary know that while life does happen sometimes, so does successful intervention. As your child begins to recover they will be stronger for the trial and they may even be able to help another child someday be free of the chains of eating disorders. Then finally these anorexia side effects may hopefully become only a distant memory.

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