Physical Exam for Eating Disorders
During a physical exam for eating disorders, the doctor will:
- Check your weight and compare it with the expected weight for someone of the same height and age. In general, a body mass index (BMI) that is less than 18.5 in adults is considered underweight.1
- Check your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. Many people who have eating disorders have a sudden drop in blood pressure when they sit up from a lying position or stand up from a sitting position.
- Listen to your heart and lungs.
- Examine your belly for anything unusual.
- Check your hands and feet for swelling.
Other physical signs include:2
- Dry skin.
- Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia).
- Thinning or dull hair on the head and unexpected fine hair growth on the body.
- Low blood pressure (especially when you stand up).
Because vomiting is often part of an eating disorder, the doctor may also check for:3
- Inflamed or diseased teeth and gums or erosion of tooth enamel.
- Swollen glands in the neck.
- Broken blood vessels in the eyes.
- Teeth marks on the back of the hands or calluses on the knuckles from self-induced vomiting.
- Sores in the mouth.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health (2000). The Practical Guide: Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults (NIH Publication No. 00-4084). Available online: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/prctgd_c.pdf.
- American Academy of Pediatrics (2010). Clinical report: Identification and management of eating disorders in children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 126(6): 1240–1253.
- Fairburn CG, Harrison PJ (2003). Eating disorders. Lancet, 361(9355): 407–416.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||W. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry|
|Last Revised||April 10, 2012|
Last Revised: April 10, 2012
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