National Eating Disorders Association

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Daily vomiting causing weight loss

Hi all,

My partner (in her 40s) has for the past year suffered daily bouts of vomiting. She has been diagnosed with a form of arthritis and was on biologic injections.

About a year ago she would start being sick maybe a few times a week then slowly it has gotten to the stage where she vomits after every meal, drink - even to the point where she will vomit tablets she took half hour earlier.

Due to covid and a useless GP, tests had been delayed, however she has undergone lots of imagine tests - no cause has shown up yet.

What concerns me is her low BMI. She went for an MRI on tuesday and she was so dehydrated, they couldnt insert the canula into any of her arms.

She has had a bad relationship with food over the years and would fit the criteria for anorexia, certainly many years ago this was the case where a previous GP told her she was borderline anorexic.

She swears that she is not making herself sick and I do believe her - the Drs must believe her too because no one has made any effort to refer her to a specialist.

Is daily vomiting like this something you would see in an eating disorder?

The latest help we received was some powdered drinks full of nutrients. Sadly these are all but useless as they are down the toilet 15 minutes later.

Getting more and more concerned as her BMI falls.

Thanks in advance.

Medical Symptoms

Hi Helpneeded, welcome to the forums. We’re very sorry to hear about what’s going on with your partner. We slightly edited your post to remove a BMI and weight number, which are not allowed on the forums (you can review our community guidelines here). The symptoms you described are very worrying, and we encourage you to continue to seek out medical attention from professionals. The following are just some of the signs of a serious problem that demands immediate medical attention:

  • accidentally or deliberately caused themselves a physical injury
  • become suicidal
  • confused thinking and is not making any sense
  • delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (experiencing things that aren’t there)
  • disoriented; doesn’t know what day it is, where they are or who they are
  • vomiting several times a day or has uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea
  • experiencing dizziness or fainting spells
  • too weak to walk or collapses
  • painful muscle spasms
  • experience pain in the lower legs
  • complaining of chest pain or having trouble breathing
  • blood in their bowel movements, urine or vomit
  • a body mass index (BMI) of less than 16
  • an irregular heartbeat, and fast heartbeat, or very low heart beat (less than 50 beats per minute)
  • cold or clammy skin indicating a low body temperature or has a body temperature of less than 35 degrees Celsius/95 degrees Fahrenheit
  • experience dizziness, nausea, fever
  • wounds/cuts heal slowly
  • feel tingling in the hands or feet
  • blurred vision

If she experiences anything above, we highly recommend seeking help from a medical professional as soon as possible. Seek medical help soon on an outpatient basis if she experiences the following:

  • have significant heartburn and/or a burning sensation after eating
  • have other gastrointestinal concerns
  • have high blood pressure
  • struggle with significant joint or muscle pain
  • have difficulty sleeping (falling and/or remaining asleep)
  • struggle with fatigue, sudden weight gain, and/or hair loss
  • have frequent urination or unquenchable thirst
  • have gained and lost significant weight repeatedly
  • have gained significant weight in a short period of time
  • struggle with chronic diarrhea or constipation

 You can also reach out to our confidential NEDA Helpline for additional support and resources at 800.931.2237 M-Th 11am-9pm ET and F 11am-5pm ET, or you chat with us online M-Th 9am-9pm ET and F 9am-5pm ET. Please don’t hesitate to reach out, and take care.

Partner vomiting.

"She swears that she is not making herself sick and I do believe her. "

I think it's reasonable for you to believe her. Perhaps she's not telling the truth, but on the other hand, I don't think that it's likely to do any good if you doubt her.

Here's the standard disclaimer ; No one here is a doctor, so it would be wrong to give medical advice.

Having said that, people do get gastroparesis. That's where their stomach doesn't empty, the food just sits there, and finally they vomit.

Most competent doctors will know about this, and there are tests that they can do to check stomach emptying. Does it seem like she's had a test for this yet ? Perhaps she has, but if not, it would not hurt to enquire about the possibility the next time she has an appointment.

Otherwise, if she actually is doing it on purpose, it's seems unlikely that she'd be letting you know that she's doing it, but then lie about it and pretend that it's beyond her control. For people with bulimia, in my experience that's generally not how it goes.

So yes, it seems reasonable to keep looking for a medical explanation, even if she's had eating disordered experiences in the past. And you are right ; it would be good if they could get on the ball with that sooner rather than later, as being in this kind of state for too long is dangerous in itself.

Hi Helpneeded,

We are not doctors and we are not allowed to diagnose anyone. However, after reading your message, I think your partner has an eating disorder. Although it is great that you believe her, please keep a close eye on her health and behaviours. I struggled with anorexia and bulimia and my life was full of lies. I didn't want anyone to know the truth and at first, I didn't even know I had a problem. To me, it was normal to not eat or vomit. I used to think I had everything under control.

I would say start playing to the "detective" game but without her noticing it. Check if she is able to avoid vomiting after eating. Check if she gets anxious with certain types of food or if she is obsessed with exercise. Observe how her body image is. Check if she is comfortable with eating at restaurants and with other people. What kind of dishes does she order? The less caloric ones? What happens if u offer her a snack in between meals? Does she eat it or she usually rejects it? Does she have any signals in her hands or teeth decay due to induce vomit?

Of course, it can be a medical issue. But please also explore the eating disorder part. Just in case.