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What is purging?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

If you have bulimia, you purge after you binge to try to get rid of the food you have just eaten. You do it because you don't want to gain weight.

People who have bulimia purge in secret. [11] And different people purge in different ways. Below is a list of some of the things we know about purging.

  • Most people who have bulimia (8 or 9 out of 10) make themselves sick after they binge. [34]

  • If you've had bulimia for a long time, you might be able to vomit without trying very hard. Some people put their fingers or something like a toothbrush handle down their throat to make themselves vomit.

  • Some people with bulimia take laxatives. Laxatives make food go through your intestines faster than normal. Taking a lot of them, or taking them often, can be dangerous. You can get bad diarrhoea, and you can get very thirsty because your body loses water (gets dehydrated). Laxatives don't get rid of calories. This is because most of the sugars and fats you take in get into your blood before the food reaches your bowels, where laxatives work. Once they get into your blood, they are either used up by your body or turned into fat.

  • Some people take diuretics (water pills) to purge. These make you urinate a lot. This just makes your body lose water, not fat.

  • Some people give themselves a lot of enemas (washing out the bowel). Enemas don't get rid of calories.



When you're dehydrated, you don't have enough fluid in your blood. This could be because you're not drinking enough or because you're losing water by sweating or having diarrhoea.


Diarrhoea is when you have loose, watery stools and you need to go to the toilet far more often than usual. Doctors say you have diarrhoea if you need to go to the toilet more than three times a day.


An enema is liquid that is poured into the rectum to clean it out. Many people find it uncomfortable and embarrassing, but it helps a doctor to see the inside of the bowels.


Laxatives are medicines that empty your bowels by making you go to the toilet more often than usual.

For more terms related to Bulimia


For references related to Bulimia click here.
Last Updated: September 18, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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