Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder marked by bouts of out-of-control binge-eating followed by self-induced vomiting or use of laxatives or diuretics to purge. People with bulimia may use other compensatory behaviors after bingeing, such as fasting or overexercising. There's no way to tell by looks alone whether a person is bulimic and both bingeing and purging are done secretly.
People with bulimia often have coexisting psychological illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, or substance use disorder. Many physical dysfunctions can result from purging, including electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal troubles, and dental problems. An estimated one to four percent of females have bulimia nervosa during their lifetime. The prevalence in males is unknown, but bulimia nervosa is far less common in males than females. Most cases begin in the late teens and early 20's, but can go undetected until the 30's or 40's.