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Diuretic abuse and eating disorders

November 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Diuretic Abuse, Eating Disorders

Herbal Diuretic

Herbal Diuretic

Diuretic abuse and eating disorders

People with eating disorders will go to almost any length to preserve or control their weight. One of the most dangerous ways that those suffering from an eating disorder try to do this is through diuretic abuse. Diuretics basically rid your system of water, which can lead to short-term weight loss. Unfortunately, it is very, very dangerous to abuse diuretics, and as soon as a person rehydrates, the weight comes back.

Diuretic abuse and eating disorders: What are diuretics?

Diuretics are a group of medications used to treat wide range of conditions, including hypertension (high blood pressure), glaucoma, and edema (the abnormal accumulation of subcutaneous fluids), by ridding the body of excess water. They’re available by prescription and over the counter. Different classes of diuretics work differently, but they all cause an increase in the amount of urine excreted by the body and less water in the blood stream.

Diuretic abuse and eating disorders: Why are they abused?

Since the body is mostly water, people with eating disorders figure that taking diuretics will help them lose weight quickly and easily. The weight lost, however, is temporary. Also, body builders frequently abuse diuretics before a competition because they believe it makes their muscles and veins stand out more.

Diuretic abuse and eating disorders: What’s the danger?

The dangers of abusing diuretics cannot be understated. Dehydrating your body leads to an imbalance of electrolytes like potassium. Potassium is very important in maintaining normal heart function. When it is depleted, you can suffer arrhythmias and heart palpitations. Additionally, severe dehydration can cause frequent headaches, nausea and dizziness. In more than half of fatalities from eating disorders, the individual was shown to have electrolyte imbalance, caused by forced vomiting, laxative abuse, or diuretic abuse. Diuretic abuse can also cause kidney and other internal organ damage.

Diuretics and eating disorders: What is the rebound effect?

People often continue to take diuretics because they initially lose weight with them. However, then the body begins to retain fluid to compensate, and the weight comes back. In order to combat this rebound effect, people abusing diuretics take even more medication. This becomes a dangerous, even, deadly cycle.

Diuretic abuse and eating disorders: How common is it?

Only about 6% of people who have eating disorders abuse diuretics. Far more common is laxative abuse and stimulant diet pill abuse. However, many of those who do abuse diuretics have a hard time stopping abuse because they don’t want to gain back the water weight that they initially lost. Also, you can develop tolerance to diuretics, meaning that you need more and more to produce the same effect.  So once someone begins to abuse diuretics, it often becomes a vicious cycle until medical intervention is needed.

Obviously, it is best not to take diuretics in the first place, but if you get caught up in the cycle of diuretic abuse, you may need medical intervention to quit. Medical professionals can help wean you off the drugs so you don’t get a severe rebound fluid retention, which can be dangerous and uncomfortable.

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