purging does not only mean vomiting. purging can mean taking laxatives, over-exercising, fasting or vomiting to get rid of what may be or may seem to be a large amount of food.

Something very important to know about purging is how it takes electrolytes out of your body, and what can happen when your electrolyte levels are imbalanced. Enzymes and electrolytes come into your stomach when food is beginning to be digested. Normally, without purging, they help the food be digested in the stomach and move along to be reabsorbed in the intestines, so you're not losing any of them through the digestive process. Those electrolytes still come out of the stomach lining to help digest the food when you're binging, but then they're purged out of your body with the rest of the food. This means that you don't have to have much experience with purging on a regular basis to cause serious health problems - depending on the state of your health, you could seriously screw up your electrolyte levels in the first few times you purge. An imbalance in electrolytes can lead to cardiac arrest (i.e., very likely death).

vomiting brings strong stomach acids up through your esophagus and mouth along with the food you are trying to get rid of. the acids can shred the esophagus, throat and mouth as well as eating away at tooth enamel. when you make yourself vomit, your mucus and saliva glands overwork, which is why your nose may run and your eyes tear up. your face may swell and turn red. you are losing important electrolytes (calcium, potassium, magnesium...) and dehydrating your body.

laxatives have a similar effect on your body to vomiting, in that they will dehydrate you, disturb your sodium levels and mess up your electrolytes. they won't have an effect on your esophagus or mouth, but they are physically addicting. the more you use laxatives, the harder it will become for your body to digest and excrete by itself, and after a while you won't be able to, er, take a shit without swallowing a handful of laxies.

ipecac syrup is extremely dangerous! it's hard to get ahold of for a reason. it's made for emergencies only, and is often misused by bulimics who don't know its dangers. when you take ipecac, it stimulates your body's central nervous system and stomach, causing you to vomit. this syrup is intended for a single, necessary use and can result in severe medical complications or death if used incorrectly or on more than one occasion. misuse of ipecac include cardiac arrest or arrhythmias, irreversible heart damage, seizures, shock, hemorrhaging, blackouts, high blood pressure, respiratory complications, dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities and death.

i know that i can't prevent anyone from purging. i strongly discourage it, because it becomes addicting as a safety net and it is so unhealthy. but i can't ignore the fact that we will all probably try it if not get caught in the binge-purge cycle. so if you do purge, here are some tips to keep it as healthy as possible:

  • drink a lot of water after vomiting or using laxatives. your body will need the water after being dehydrated and imbalanced.
  • take vitamins, pedialyte, drink gatorade or find some other way to replace and rebalance your body's electrolytes.
  • swish a mixture of baking soda and water in your mouth immediately after purging. the baking soda will help to neutralize the acids from your stomach. another suggestion would be to brush your mouth with baking soda and water. this advice is a bit controversial, as some people think that brushing after vomiting will rub the acid into and the enamel off of your teeth. As far as I know, nobody has officially studied this, so my advice is as good as anyone else's.

  • This absolutely DOES NOT mean that if you drink lots of water and swish with baking soda after purging that your body will be left unharmed. These two methods don't even take a third of the harm out of purging. I've spoken with people who say, "I just do it once a day and I always drink lots of water, etc., so it's not really a problem." YES, it will still do harm at once a day, YES it will become addicting, YES you can die after a year or two of purging.

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