Formerly the Emergency Care Research Institute, ECRI has just launched a bulimia guide and Web site ( ECRI’s bulimia guide provides everything a person needs to know – from how to recognize the problem in a loved one to how to evaluate insurance plans and treatment options.

The guide is the result of two years of original research, which meant talking to bulimic patients and their families and friends, and evaluating everything from best treatments to insurance plans. The result is what ECRI calls the first of its kind – a systematic guide through the bulimia labyrinth of diagnosis, treatment and finding care.

Characterized as a mental health disorder, bulimia comprises binge eating followed by “compensatory behavior” to prevent weight gain. That includes self-induced vomiting, which can cause sore lips and knuckles; fasting; excessive use of enemas, laxatives or diuretics, and compulsive exercise.

Researchers now know that it’s not just upper middle class white teenagers and young women who are affected. Now it’s clear that males, minorities and athletes who also suffer from the disorder.

The ECRI report lists risk factors, such as anxiety, perfectionism and past physical or sexual abuse, and warning signs, which dentists often discover first because constant vomiting can erode tooth enamel and increase cavities.

© 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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