Physical Examination for Eating Disorders
During a physical examination 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.footnote 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:footnote 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:footnote 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.
- Steering Committee on Practice Guidelines, American Psychiatric Association (2006). Treating Eating Disorders: A Quick Reference Guide. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- 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 Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry
Current as ofMay 3, 2017
Current as of: May 3, 2017
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2017 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.