For most people, it sounds strange to make yourself throw up. Indeed, self-induced vomiting can produce all sorts of harmful side effects, including dehydration, nutrient deficiencies, digestive disorders, and more.

Yet, if you are one of the 30 million Americans of all ages and genders living with an eating disorder, you may make yourself throw up to lose weight. However, that way of thinking is flawed. Ultimately, when you make yourself vomit, you will not lose weight, and over time, you may actually gain weight.

When your body realizes that food is being restricted through self-induced vomiting, your metabolism lowers and you convert calories into fat stores. Also, when you make yourself vomit, you increase your urge to binge, which means you’ll likely to consume more food than normal.

When you induce vomiting just twice, this can lead to the eating disorder known as bulimia nervosa. Although mental illnesses like eating disorders are more common in younger women in their teens and early 20s, bulimia also occurs in elderly adults. Retirement, physical decline, and the death of a spouse can all trigger an eating disorder in the senior population.

Bulimics may consume thousands of calories at one time, and then induce vomiting to expel the food from the body to prevent weight gain. The person may also use laxatives to prevent the body from digesting food. Self-induced vomiting will lead to sores on the knuckles or fingers, nutritional deficiencies, swollen salivary glands, and digestive problems like diarrhea and constipation. The esophagus or the stomach may rupture, or a potassium deficiency may also lead to heart attack or kidney failure.

On the other hand, there may be situations where the elderly may need to induce vomiting. This is where it is necessary to purge harmful substances from the body, including accidental poisonings as a result of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia medications.

Reasons Not to Make Yourself Throw Up
More often than not, it is best not to make yourself throw up, especially when you eat too much food. Constantly throwing up after overeating can lead to serious health problems over time, and there are several making yourself throw up side effects you need to know about.

If you believe you have ingested a poisonous substance or excess medication, you should contact emergency services or the poison control center, as vomiting may cause more harm than benefit.

1. Your Body Becomes Prone to Vomiting

The human body is very good at adapting to changes. In fact, you can gradually increase your maximum stomach capacity so that you can consume more food in a sitting. However, when you always throw up after overeating, the body will adapt and become prone to involuntary vomiting or throwing up on its own.

As a result, you may find yourself throwing up more without trying. Vomiting may even occur during burping. This is because the muscle that normally prevents vomiting called the gastroesophageal sphincter becomes loose from repeated induced vomiting.

2. Dehydration and Body Fluid Imbalance

When throwing up, you eliminate a significant amount of water, stomach acid, and other important body fluids. This will temporarily create imbalances in most of your fluids until the body adapts and balances your fluids back to normal.

If you do throw up after eating, it is crucial that you consume lots of water afterwards. Dehydration can be a potential side effect as a result.

Water consumption will also help flush away stomach acid remaining in the mouth and esophagus from the vomiting. Dehydration can also negatively affect mental capabilities, digestion, heart functioning, muscle movements, and kidney problems.

3. Electrolyte and Nutrient Imbalances

Dehydration can also lead to electrolyte imbalances like low sodium and hypokalemia—also known as low potassium. Symptoms of low potassium include constipation, fatigue, muscle damage, feelings of palpitations or skipped heart beats, abnormal heart rhythms, tingling or numbness, and muscle weakness or spasms.

Electrolyte imbalance can also lead to a higher likelihood of heart failure, heart attacks, and death. Furthermore, self-induced vomiting can lead to nutrient deficiencies in general, which can produce a variety of symptoms like hair loss, lightheadedness, dull skin, and trouble breathing.

4. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can be caused by the acid in vomit, which softens the enamel on teeth. Some people also develop severe tooth decay, tooth loss, yellowing of the teeth, and deterioration of the gums.

To minimize tooth and gum damage, it is best not to brush after vomiting. Instead, rinse the mouth and wait an hour before brushing.

5. Acid Reflux or Ulcers

Chronic vomiting can also lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and stomach ulcers such as gastric ulcers, peptic ulcers, or a duodenal ulcer.

GERD symptoms include difficulty swallowing, dry cough, chest pain, a sore throat, a dry cough, a sensation of a lump in the throat, and heartburn that spreads to the throat.

Ulcers will also produce symptoms like appetite loss, increased appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Chronic vomiting will not only worsen acid reflux, but it will also damage the esophagus and lead to life-threatening bleeding as well.

6. Salivary Gland Problems

Vomiting can increase the size of the salivary glands, and this can lead to swelling of the face and neck area. This swelling is due to the need to retain water and the body having to compensate for fluid loss.

The parotid gland is a particular salivary gland found on both sides of the angle of the jaw that can become enlarged and painful when stimulated by acid in vomit.

7. Throat Problems

Acid exposure to the throat and voice box from self-induced vomiting can result in a swollen and sore throat and hoarse voice. There may also be swollen lymph nodes in the neck and throat pain when talking, swallowing, or breathing.

8. Irregular Menstrual Periods

Research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in 2008 found that teenage girls who vomit one to three times monthly to control weight increase the risk of irregular menstrual periods by 60%. For the study, the researchers analyzed self-reported data from 2,791 girls aged 14 to 19 years old. About 9 percent reported vomiting for weight control once to three times per month.

9. Digestive Problems

Self-induced vomiting can also lead to digestive problems, such as a bloated stomach, diarrhea, and constipation, caused by taking laxatives and altering electrolyte and enzyme levels. When the vomiting has been stopped, the digestive problems usually go away, but this usually takes time.

The overuse of diuretics, laxatives, or diet pills can make it difficult to have a bowel movement without using them. At the same time, over-strained bowel movements can lead to hemorrhoids.

10. Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer occurs in the esophagus, but it can occur anywhere along the long, hollow tube. This type of cancer is the sixth most common cancer, and men are more often affected with esophagus cancer than women.

Early stages of esophageal cancer typically produce no symptoms; however, later on, symptoms may include hoarseness, coughing, weight loss without trying, difficulty swallowing, worsening heartburn or indigestion, and chest pain, pressure, or burning.

A study published in the South African Medical Journal in 2006 found that self-induced vomiting was significantly associated with esophageal chronic inflammation in patients who underwent early screening for esophageal cancer.

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Author's Bio: 

Jon Yaneff is a holistic nutritionist and health researcher with a background in journalism. After years of a hectic on-the-go, fast food-oriented lifestyle as a sports reporter, Jon knew his life needed a change. He began interviewing influential people in the health and wellness industry and incorporating beneficial health and wellness information into his own life. Jon’s passion for his health led him to the certified nutritional practitioner (CNP) program at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition.