Thursday, February 15, 2007

Anorexia nervosa and the lack of zinc

In 1973 doctors Sommerset and Goldman, two researchers engaged in the study of the influence of zinc on the human organism, came to the conclusion that the lack of zinc causes loss of appetite in children. Later on this hypothesis was proved to be true.

The first aimed investigations were hold in 1980 at Kentucky University. Scientists found that 10 out of 13 patients with anorexia nervosa and 8 out of 14 patients with bulimia nervosa also had insufficiency of zinc. Among the common symptoms of anorexia nervosa and the lack of zinc are:
  • Loss of weight
  • Loss of appetite
  • Absence of periods (for women)
  • Impotence (for men)
  • Nausea
  • Inflammation and dryness of skin
  • Poor hair
  • Poor assimilation of nutrients
  • Confusion of thinking
  • Depression, anxiety, fear
Zinc is essentially important for normal digestion and cell construction, and the lack of it results in damage of walls of intestines, what prevents absorbing of nutritious elements. All this makes up a sort of a vicious circle, as zinc can’t be absorbed in necessary quantity.

In 1984 the first case of anorexia treatment with the use of zinc was described. A 13-year-old anorexic girl, suffering from depression and mentally suppressed, weighed only 37 kg. She was observed and diagnosed by a skilled psychiatrist, but after three months of traditional treatment her weight fell down to 31,5 kg. But after two months of reception of zinc 45 mg day the weight increased up to 44,5 kg, the mood of the patient improved considerably, and the blood test showed that the level of zinc was normal.

Thus, people suffering from anorexia nervosa often have insufficiency of zinc, and reception of zinc medications in course of treatment brings positive results in the overwhelming majority of cases. Unfortunately, in many clinics and medical centers zinc is still not widely used to treat anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Anorexia nervosa - the enslaver of young minds and bodies

Anorexia nervosa is rather rare in the USA - only 15 cases of 100 000 people of the US population a year. As far as this disease is chronic, its general prevalence is a bit higher - 0,1-0,7% of the whole US population. We have already pointed out that young girls of teenage age are mostly subjected to this disorder. Anorexia nervosa is chiefly a psychological disease. The consciousness of anorexic girls is like a battlefield of contradictory and often baseless thoughts. These thoughts seize and enslave their young victims. Let's try to look what happens inside their heads.

First of all, we should note a painful conviction of stoutness and aspiration to lose weight. It is often accompanied with obtrusiveness and anxiety, neurosis, etc. Many personality changes occur because of starvation. Among them are constant concentration of thoughts on food issues, depression, hostility, fatigability, sleeping disorders, low libido, reduced cognitive function. Long-term investigations showed that 15 % of anorexic cases end up with lethal outcome. And the reason of death approximately in half of them is suicide. It tells us about a great emotional disbalance of patients with anorexia nervosa and necessity to consider each case as potentially having a mortal ending.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Anorexia nervosa: a life story

I don't even remember since what moment I began to grow thin. What made me take such a thoughtless decision? But the fact remains the same: I did grow thin.

I was 15 then and you probably roll up your eyes and wonder how I could rack my body when it was just growing and forming? To speak the truth, I didn't even think of that. Anorexia nervosa? I didn’t know what that meant. I was not frightened when my menstruation ceased; on the contrary, I was partly pleased, since I could be engaged in fitness constantly. Awfully enough, but then it didn't worry me.

I ate only vegetables and fruits, some dairy products with fat content 0.5-1%, cooked fish and chicken without salt. That was all, really.

In spite of my frugal diet, I went in for sports regularly (5-6 times a week). I read somewhere that in order to grow thin it is necessary to consume carbohydrates not less than 8 hours before training. So I safely refused from fruits during the whole day. I could eat a half-pack of cottage cheese of zero fat content (~35 kcal) a day and do aerobics with full feedback. Now I don’t even understand, where my forces came from. It was not power of will, it was madness leading me to the state where I’m now – anorexia nervosa.

I remember well that New Year night. I was changing my clothes in the bedroom. I stopped suddenly and stood before the mirror. It was for the first time when I noticed the results. A thin girl was standing before the mirror. That girl was me. I liked my reflection very much. I looked like a model. Being 165 cm high my weight was 39 kg.

Now I’m a victim of anorexia nervosa. My friends and relatives don't know what to do with me. Is that the price that I have to pay?

Anorexia nervosa in the beginning

Usually anorexia nervosa begins to develop at early teenage age, but sometimes it can reveal itself for the first time much later - after 30 and even 40 years. Before loss of weight is evident children with anorexia nervosa are described as soft, keen, hardworking, having no signs of psychological frustration. Usually their families are rather successful socially and belong to middle or high social class. As a rule, such children have very good results in school. Quite often they are slightly stout. And because of their coevals' sneers they put on a diet and when they begin to grow thin they deny it.

When exhaustion becomes obvious to relatives they at last call the doctor. The doctor should carry out a careful inspection in order to distinguish true anorexia nervosa from other somatic or mental diseases (such as heavy toxicoses, metabolic infringements or deep psychological infringement of thinking and delirium) in case of which loss of appetite and weight are only secondary symptoms. At this stage patients with anorexia nervosa (in typical cases they are teenage girls) are hostile, depressed, reserved and anxious. They can complain of chilliness and constipations. Laboratory analyses indicate exchange and hormonal shifts characteristic of starvation. In spite of danger connected with refusal from food, patients with anorexia nervosa hardly realize their unhealthy state, they don't want to change their nutritional behaviour and resist any kind of treatment. Astonishing enough, but a sick girl of 173 cm with the weight of only 27 kg still continues to think she's stout.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What's anorexia nervosa? A general overview

More and more often we face the disease that has become popular in last 30 years. What is anorexia nervosa? How dangerous is it and what are its causes?

Anorexia nervosaAnorexia nervosa is considered to be the disease connected with abnormal nutritional behaviour. Anorexia nervosa is neither a mania nor a bad habit. It is a mental disease.

A pathological desire of loss of the weight accompanied by the fear of adiposity is characteristic of anorexia nervosa. A patient has an unreal self-image distorted by the anxiety of the imaginary increase of weight (even if the's not a sign of the latter).

Usually people who suffer from anorexia nervosa strive to lose their weight in two ways:

1. restrictions (rigid diets, decrease in food consumption from day to day, excessive sport excercises.
2. purging (gastric lavage, enemas, provoked vomitting after food consumption).

There several reasons for anorexia nervosa. We may distiguish at least three factors:

- biological (biological and genetic predisposition),
- psychological (influence of family and internal conflicts),
- social (influence of the environment, social expectations, imitation).

How widespread is anorexia nervosa? Well, in developed countries every second of 100 girls aged from 12 to 24 suffers from it. Anorexia nervosa is considered to be a woman's disease. 90% of anorexic sufferers are generally young girls of 12-24. 10% comprise more mature women and men.

Symptoms of anorexia nervosa:

1. constant sensation of plumpness of the body or its parts
2. the way to consume food: to eat upright, to shatter a meal into fine pieces
3. sleep disorder
4. isolation from the society
5. panic fear to put on weight

Among its consequences are arrhythmia, changes in the menstrual cycle, constant weakness, muscular spasms, irritability, etc.

What one can do in case of anorexia nervosa?

First of all one should contact the psychiatrist be diagnosed and to get the plan of treatment. In anorexia nervosa treatment psychological support (individual and family psychotherapy) is one of the neccesary conditions.