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Recognize signs, side effects of eating disorders

ver 20 million women and 10 million men have suffered from eating disorders at some point in their lives, according to the National Eating Disorder Association’s website, The site also states that girls as young as 6 start expressing concern about their weight. “At the core of anorexia and bulimia is a poor self-esteem and distorted body image,” said Dr. J. Scott Stanley, Searcy psychiatrist. “That can be brought up by different things such as family issues, bullying and abuse.” Stanley said that the peak age for eating disorders is 13-17, but that it has drifted down to children as young as 9. “Children are so easily led astray that there is a social aspect,” Stanley said. “At that developmental stage, they don’t have a good sense of self.” Stanley said children and young teens who suffer from eating disorders have probably seen other girls or women struggle with the issue. The National Eating Disorder Association states that people should be aware of the following warning signs: • Anorexia: Dramatic weight loss, preoccupation with dieting and weight, denial of hunger, development of food rituals and

consistent excuses to avoid mealtime or situations involving food. • Binge Eating Disorder (BED): Frequent episodes of eating large quantities of food in a short period of time, feeling out of control over eating behavior, eating until uncomfortably full and eating alone because of embarrassment over quantities consumed. • Bulimia: Evidence of binge eating and purging, unusual swelling of cheeks or jaws, calluses on back of hands and knuckles from induced vomiting, discoloration of teeth, withdrawal from friends and activities. “We do need to educate kids [on eating disorders],” Stanley said. “But we need to watch them because of future discounting.” Stanley said future discounting is when young people blow off the future, when their brains are too immature to even project themselves having futures. “Their brains have not developed enough to understand the consequences,” Stanley said. If a parent or other adult suspects a child or teenager has an eating disorder, the first thing to do is get that child to a pediatrician, Stanley said. “The first step is to get the young person checked physically because of the toll the disorder takes on the body,” Stanley said.

“There’s always some sort of emotional component to these disorders so the next step is getting them to a therapist.” Stanley said when approaching someone about an eating disorder, people need to remember to have a caring and non-judgmental approach.

The National Eating Disorder Association states that there are several health consequences of the various eating disorders: Anorexia — Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, osteoporosis, muscle loss and weakness, severe dehydration and kidney failure, fatigue, hair loss and growth of downy layer of hair called lanugo to keep body warm.

Binge Eating Disorder — High blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, gallbladder disease and musculoskeletal problems.

Bulimia — Electrolyte imbalance that can lead to irregular heartbeat, inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus, tooth decay, chronic irregular bowel movements and gastric rupture.

Donating blood can save lives

Judy Johnston relaxes as she waits to finish giving blood at the Searcy American Red Cross. Johnston said she donates blood frequently and has for the past 20 years.

One does not need to be a superhero or a medical professional to save a life. Giving blood can help change lives and create a reliable blood supply, according to the Arkansas Red Cross. Judy Johnston of Searcy said she has been donating blood frequently over the past 20 years. “I do it because I can help people,” Johnston said. “I may need it some day.” Johnston said she has a niece who receives blood frequently so she understands the need. “I give blood every time they call me,” Johnston said. “You can give blood every 56 days, so that’s about how often I do it.” The Red Cross said people can donate whole blood, platelets, plasma or double red cells, but that whole blood is the most common. When donating whole blood, people give approximately one pint. To be eligible to give blood, donors must be

healthy, be at least 16 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds. The Red Cross provides the following tips for a successful donation: • Maintain a healthy iron level • Get a good night’s sleep • Drink an extra 16 oz. of water or nonalcoholic fluids before donation • Eat a healthy meal beforehand According to the Arkansas Blood Institute, an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, but less than 10 percent do. Their website,, states that although all blood types are needed, people with O-negative are especially encouraged to donate. The Searcy American Red Cross accepts donations on Tuesdays from 1-6 p.m. and Fridays from 12-5 p.m. at 1120 South Main St.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 x well now x 9

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