While there are clinical criteria for hospitalization for anorexia, the reasons for hospitalization are complicated and usually intertwined with clinical and psychiatric symptoms.
Basic Facts About Anorexia Nervosa
The criteria for hospitalization for anorexia usually occur later in the progression of the disorder. The first signs and symptoms of anorexia are as follows:
- Lack of proper calorie intake
- Not eating although hungry, or eating very little
- Diet addiction and a habit of limiting calories although body weight is already slender
- Continuing to limit eating although body weight falls below a healthy weight
- Preoccupation with food and eating habits of yourself and often others; almost a food addiction, but just not of eating food
- Intense fear of weight gain
- Distorted body image; the anorexic may be very thin but see fat when she looks in the mirror
- Accompanying symptoms of bulimia (eating and vomiting)
Overall rates of anorexia are difficult to pin down because often an individual with one eating disorder will also show signs of another. Frequent misdiagnose is common, and the final statistics are fuzzy. Most research points out that anywhere from one to four percent of the female population is affected. Men are affected as well, but they only make up an estimated five to ten percent of the total percentage of individuals with anorexia in the U.S. Caucasian and Hispanic females are more affected by anorexia than Black and Asian women.
Criteria for Hospitalization for Anorexia and Advanced Symptoms
Often the reasons for hospitalization of an individual with anorexia are intertwined with advanced anorexia symptoms. There are three categories of reasons regarding why an individual might be hospitalized for anorexia:
- Medical complications
Psychiatric Reasons for Hospitalization
- Family crisis or high stress situation (start of college, end of relationship, etc)
- Refusal to comply with treatment
- Suicide threats
- Severe depression or anxiety
- Presence of another mental instability like psychosis
- Poor response to outpatient treatment
Family evaluation is also necessary. Usually this means that a nurse or doctor needs to provide education about anorexia to the entire family so that outpatient treatment will be more successful.
Complications and Medical Reasons for Hospitalization
Complications and medical criteria for hospitalization for anorexia are intertwined.
The key medical indicators are basic starvation signs that include:
- Brittle hair and nails
- Poor skin turgor
- An intolerance to cold
- Sore joints
- Lack of menstrual cycle
- Loss of muscle mass
While signs of starvation alone may not land an individual in the hospital, it's an indication that hospitalization may soon be necessary. Other reasons for hospitalization can include:
- Testing and diagnosis are necessary
- Weight loss exceeds 25 percent of total body weight over three months
- Infection of any kind (anorexia can complicate infection)
- Heart rate falls below 40 beats per minute or above 110 beats per minute
- Vomiting of blood
- Severe dehydration
- Abnormally low temperature
- Abnormally low serum potassium levels even after potassium replacements are tried - Potassium levels are extremely important to human functions like nerve and muscle activity, and a correct level insures that the heart can function as well.
This is the tip of the iceberg. Anorexia can cause deterioration of most of an individual's body functions and result in death. This is why proper and timely anorexia treatment is so important. To see all the different ways in which anorexia can wreak havoc on a body visit WomensHealth.gov; this site includes a handy diagram.
Prevent Anorexia Early
You cannot 100 percent prevent any disease from occurring, but in the case of eating disorders like anorexia, family interactions can play a huge role in making sure the odds of a young girl developing anorexia are slimmer.
Myths about "cleaning your plate" should be eliminated altogether, and children, even from a young age ,should be allowed to learn how to self-regulate their hunger and the types of foods they eat. There should be a family focus on inner worth, not simply outer beauty, and eating habits of the family as a whole should be balanced and healthy. If you're the parent of young children, talk to their doctor about how to instill more healthy food-related behaviors into your family's routine. You may head off an eating disorder before it ever occurs.