Diagnosing Bulimia Nervosa

The Basic Physical Tests for Bulimia

During a physical exam when a physician suspects bulimia, measurements will be taken which include height, weight, and body mass index. Body temperature will be taken and vital signs including blood pressure and heart rate will be checked. The physician will also listen to the heart and lungs. The skin will also be observed for any indication of dryness or other skin conditions. An examination of the abdomen will be done and the glands will be checked for swelling.

Laboratory Tests for Bulimia

A full blood count may be done which can detect the presence of anemia or other blood deficiencies such as iron which may be due to the lack of nutrition caused by bulimia. Another blood test may be done which checks the protein and levels of electrolytes in the system which includes potassium, sodium, chloride, and bicarbonate.

Blood testing can also be used to check thyroid, liver, and kidney function. A urine sample will also be taken and a urinalysis will be done which can detect many abnormalities in the body that may be associated with bulimia.

Psychological Evaluation

A professional who specializes in mental health or a physician will do a psychological evaluation. This evaluation consists of numerous questions which will include inquiring about the individuals eating habits as well as their feelings and thoughts towards their body image or food. Questions will be asked about past eating habits and may include questions about when the symptoms of bulimia started, what the severity of the symptoms are, and how they have impacted the individuals life.

X-Rays and Other Testing

In severe cases of bulimia X-rays may be taken to check for any broken bones, heart conditions, or pneumonia. Bulimia can cause many other health related complications and a physician may order other forms of testing. The physician will evaluate the results of all the testing which has been done and determine if the individual has bulimia based on the diagnostic criteria for this disorder. The earlier bulimia is detected decreases the risk of other serious health related conditions and even death which can be caused in cases of severe bulimia.