Swollen Glands and Your Bulimia


One of the biggest worries for a bulimia sufferer is the chubby appearance of their face. It is often more worrying than the constant hoarseness of their voice or a sore throat, which is typically inflicted upon people with bulimia nervosa. If you are suffering from swollen glands in your face and feel the need to jump straight into a diet or food restriction in an attempt to bring the size back down..then you need to think twice!

Swollen glands in your face such as the Lymph nodes, Salivary glands and Parotid glands, are one of the tell tale signs and common side effects of bulimia. Often this is brought about by frequent bingeing and purging, which aggravates areas of your face and neck. By now you may have noticed the direct correlation of your chaotic binging and vomiting, and the prominent gland enlargement.

Unlike the swollen glands that occur in a healthy person indicating invasive infection, in a bulimia sufferer the enlargement of your face and glands are due to your natural body’s defense mechanism, to counter the damage caused by constant attack from the stomach acids like Hydrochloric acid. This onslaught or irritation is what gives that permanent look of a round face that most sufferers despise as it makes them feel “fat”. The fact that the rest of your body feels normal or proportionate may go unnoticed or fail to give you any comfort. Instead your bulimia pre-occupation or obsession fuels you to enter into a compensatory behavior such as dieting, food restriction, over exercising laxative or diuretic abuse.

Unfortunately, your body can only go about reducing and normalizing the shape and size of your glands, if the behavior of bingeing and purging dramatically reduces or stops all together. The rate of swollen gland recovery time will depend very much on your own body’s ability to reverse the damage done in the area of your throat, jaw, mouth and upper gut (Oesophagus). Swelling, bleeding, or ulcers including losing your voice and being more prone to sore throat and infection in this region are all good indicators that bulimia behavior is costing you your slim facial appearance that you want so much.

If the size and shape of your face concerns you enough to take action’ you will need to be fully receptive and committed towards your bulimia treatment and bulimia recovery. There are no halfway compromises about stopping your face swelling and keeping your eating disorder alive. Decision to sacrifice the benefits of bulimia is necessary, as even on the rare occasion of bingeing and purging the round and fuller face will come back in matter of minutes!

The good news is that you can decide to get help for your bulimia and gradually stop this very damaging behavior all together, whilst gaining self confidence, great body image and a beautiful face that you can be happy seeing in the mirror.

To learn more about support for eating disorders and how to stop binging & purging, go and read about the different bulimia treatments.

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Comments

25 Responses to “Swollen Glands and Your Bulimia”
  1. Jen says:

    I want to thank you for this article. It has really motivated me to try to recover from my bulimia once and for all.
    I have been bulimic since I was 11 years old. I am 22 years old now, so it has literally been a part of my life for half my life. It’s hard to give up, and my swollen face is a major factor to recover from this illness. It’s funny how no other risks have motivated me to give up…or perhaps they have and the swollen face factor was the last straw.
    I have been to rehab when I was 16 and was rushed to hospital from near cardiac arrest when I was 18. Nothing helped for me. I guess I needed to decide to get well on my own terms, when I was ready, as opposed to having family and friends breathing down my neck for many years telling me that I had to recover.
    I am very motivated now, and haven’t thrown up in 2 days so far. This is already a great accomplishment because from the age of 11 to 21 I didn’t keep down a single meal, not even fruit. I don’t know how I managed to stay alive, but here I am. Since I was 21, I have been keeping down a whole grain roll with raw mushrooms, tuna and raw onions on. I haven’t kept down anything else until two days ago. I’m afraid that I gain weight and relapse. I am starting slowly and eating small, non-fat meals like salad and healthy food. I am dreading the weight gain and hope that I won’t put on too much, but I have faith. I believe it’s time to get healthy now. My teeth are rotten and I don’t want any further damage to be done to my body, after all, I can’t get another body if I ruin my own.
    I want to thank you, again for the advice and guidance. I look forward to the day that I don’t have to be afraid that I might die one day soon. I don’t want to think today may be my last day. I want to be healthy and happy.

  2. Dear Jen,

    Weldone ! What a marvellous start you have made! You have managed to nail in those two days..and perhaps even more more by the time you read this response!

    Now you have proved it your self, given the right motivation YOU CAN change!! Congratulations!

    The key is to appreciate and celebrate even the smallest of our victories..TWO whole day break, given the bulimic life style you have been dealing with, IS truly something you can acknowledge and be proud of Jen.

    You are right, it may be this swollen glands that gave you that ultimate push..or build of many combinations of things like you said..whatever it is, the point is something finally made that SHIFT in you to want to give up your bulimia and set your self on a path of recovery. That is the most important thing! So credit to you!!

    Jen you are also right, often out of our mobid fear of gaining weight, or it being our possible last day can paralise us from taking the necessary ACTION..there lies your biggest block to success..this vicious cycle.

    My advice to you, is take each day and do your best to hang on to the resolve you have now..and keep reminding your self of all the wonderful things you stand to gain, experiences and enjoy in life that under your bulimic mindset , you wouldn’t have a chance of .

    Don’t be afriad to seek outside support from your friends and family or even from a professional therapist that specialises in Bulimia recovery.
    It is this 1st decidion that is hard, then you just have to continually work on your self, body confidence, boundaries, healthy eating plan, planning to events that has trigger written all over it and so on..A qualified specialist will be able to guide you through these shifts and changes you need to adopt to make your two day success in to a life long success that you can truly look forward to..

    I wish you every succcess and happiness Jen..AND others like you, embarking on bulimia recovery! Good luck!

    with warm wishes

    Vathani
    Bulimia Specialist

  3. David says:

    I have been recovery for just over a year now, October the 1st marked 1 year for me. Like Jen the swollen face and glands was a major contributing factor to my recovery, that and the shire tiredness of it all. I’m so glad i did thought, there were times when i thought ‘i’m never going to be normal again’.

    Now i pretty much eat what i like, though i try and stay healthy, I dont have chocolate but thats about the only thing i dont have.

    I was bulimic for about 6 years and anorexic for about 6 months, when i stopped my glands became alot worse, but thats what happens in recovery, a test i believe. I guess I did alot of damage to my glands because they still cause me trouble, it really gets me down, some days they are worse than others. But I have faith that they will get better.

  4. Frederic says:

    My swollen glands aren’t too upsetting, since I’ve whittled down to just below the published BMI chart in the USA (5’10″ @ 120 lbs). They are not noticed by others. I congratulate others in recovery – who have broken the vicious habit. Going two days without BN is rare and very worthy!

    Would that I had my druthers I’d opt for more AN than BN – tho I know neither is best. Happy holidays,

    Frederic
    Apalachicola, FL USA

  5. Violet says:

    Hi!
    I also want to thank you,both for this article and for the whole project.
    I’m italian,(I hope you understand my english…) 27 years old and bulimic since I was 19.
    I have many reason to stop that, I had period in which I won this, but recently I went again inside of it. I don’t let me down,I know that I will succeed and I know that I need time. But my swollen glands are still large…even in the period I stopped, and I am very afraid that they will remain like this for all my life!…I want back my real face!and also I am very afraid about the gland cancer..There is something I can do for accelerate the process of recovery of my glands?
    Do you think there is a possibility that they will never go back to the normality?
    Furthermore,I have another question:I am graduated in medicine,and of course I wanted to know more about this problem, but even I looked so much for the mechanism of this glands enlargement, I didn’t find anything but only some words about”defense from the acid of the stomach”.But I need more detail!!
    Can you suggest me some book or some site in which I can find some more detail? I would like to know the exact, molecular mechanism of this hyperplasia(or is hypertrophy?)
    I will wait your answer, and most of all, I do congratulation to you for your work, really deeply from my heart.
    Violet

  6. Dear David and Frederic,

    Thank you for writing in…Weldone on your ongoing recovery ..Keep up the good work folks!

    Hi Violet,

    Weldone also to you for proving to your own self that recovery is well within your capacity..You have already demonstrated it before in your life ..You just have to perserve with it each and every day..that’s what gets you result!

    As for getting hold of resources on glands…I am puzzled as to why you are not able to get some information on the subject, given you will have wealth of information at your fingertips..being a medical graduate..

    Do look for Physiology books written by Guyton with title “Human Physiology and Mechanisms of disease” or any research material written by Fairburn..Two very good source.
    Hyperplasia (where the cell increase) often caused by a hormonal reaction..This acid reflux is more of a hypertrophic reaction (swelling ) directly due to acid attack and your body’s own response to reduce it.

    Violet, as for accelerating your reovery process, you above all people know..there’s only ONE way to allow for your body to recover and that is to allow “time” needed for it to mend it’s own self in the abscene of further bingeing and purging ..Depending on your own recovery and immunology, time will be a short one or a slow healing process. That rests in your hands alone …
    So don’t wait another moment wondering , just take ACTION to recover now! Get help to support you achieving this if you have to..it all will be worth it in the end!

    Wishing you healing & recovery,

    Vathani

  7. Linde Matthews says:

    hi…i thank you also for this article. I have been bulimic for about 4 years now. It began when i was 14 and i am now 18. it has just gotten worse over time. but i have taken a step to finally be free from it. i have a food diary and keep it with me at all times. it helps a lot. i told my mom and just letting her know and not have to hide it has helped so much. i want to get a book somehow but am not sure what kind of book would be good. do u have any suggestions??

  8. hellokitty says:

    Thank you for this article

    I’m 16, relatively healthy, yet think i have been semi bulimic for 2 years; i dont purge all the time, but do so when im stressed, or bored, or when i have eaten something i fear will make me put on weight, as i have suffered weight problems since childhood. I have recently started to notice my jaw line looking less defined, and swollen, and from this article i can tell it is from the bulimia. I also suffer mild jaw discomfort possibly caused by bulimia, with the constant act of purging and induced vomiting; sometimes i find opening my jaw wide painful and difficult, and i fear it has aggravated teeth grinding during my sleep, causing my teeth to wear down and have very straight edges.

    I don’t feel this is a dangerous problem for me now, as the effects aren’t too irreversible, yet i want to try to stop this. I am fully aware of the consequences of bulimia, and i try to bypass the effects, i.e purging after 30 mins, so digestion has not begun and stomach acid isnt brought up, or attempting to regularly brush and floss teeth to keep them healthy. Yet i have pathetically poor will power…..This is definitely a mental issue…..

    suggestions please?

  9. sarah says:

    ive already gained 10 lbs in 1 week of not purging. i dont know if it’s fluid or fat, but i am noticeably larger (people have commented). i eat minimal calories and exercise compulsively for hours a day. i dont know how i’m gaining this fast but it’s scaring me horribly because last time i attempted recovery i gained a huge amount super rapidly and i cant deal with that happening again because i never lost it when i spiraled back into starving and purging. my jaw and neck suddenly hurt and i dont get why thats happening now that i’ve stopped purging.

  10. Johnny says:

    Sarah:
    God bless you dear, the weight gain is most likely fluid retention. Somehow our bodies adapt to destructive behaviors and when we stop the body has to adapt back. It must also learn to renourish/refeed and keep/utilize the food. You could be going through refeeding sydrone which can differ in danger depending on your body and the severity of your situation, etc.

    Recovery is uncomfortable
    but death is even worse. Congrats on your no purging progress, that is increbile.

    And to the authoer of this article, WELL DONE! Keep writing, recovering and sharing. God bless you deeply!

    In Christ Love,
    Johnny – 28 year old male with lifelong history of anorexia and bulimia

  11. Michael says:

    It was encouraging to read this article… yet I’m still immensely worried. I’ve been bulimic from age 26 to 31 at about three times per week, now I have largely stopped, but there are still those days where I feel so down, fat, and ugly that I purge again. My last clean period lasted for two months, and two weeks ago I lost control again. It was only for one day, but now my face is still so immensely swollen that I wonder when (or if) it will go away again.

  12. Fiona says:

    I have been bulimic for 6 years now. I was 13 and now I am 19. I fully quit when I was 15 but only for about 6 months and then started again. I too have somewhat chubby cheeks that I didn’t really have before, and I have recently been noticing that my neck is swollen. I’m not sure if my teeth have been affected too much, but I have read not to brush your teeth until about an hour after you purge because brushing can remove the enamel easier because the acid is so present. Also, my mom told me that if I purge, drink a cup of water with baking soda in it before purging to neutralize the stomach acid. My bulimia is the worst it has ever been now, sometimes purging 7 times a day. My esophagus has bled several times, and that has worried me the most. I finally told my mom and my doctor recently, and my doctor is extremely concerned and said she thinks that I will bleed to death very soon if I don’t stop. I know she is probably right, but in my mind I still think I am invincible and I don’t truly think I will die, no matter how many statistics I read. I am 130lbs, 5’3″ and I feel extremely fat. I had quit for about a week and gained ten pounds. I started bulimia again and I can’t lose weight. I would like to be 115lbs, but I don’t think I can get smaller than 120lbs without being anorexic. I know that it is ridiculous to think this way, but I can’t stop. My doctor wants me to see a therapist, but I truly think what I need is inpatient rehabilitation. The problem is that it is extremely expensive, so I don’t think I will get what I need. Have any of you been successful with only therapy?

  13. Maria says:

    Dear Sirs,

    Your site is very helpful.

    I am 40 years old, and I have been bulimic for the last 5 years. Which means that I binge, purge and vomit twice and 3 times a day !!! So far I have not been seriously ill, or hospitalized. I have all the slight organic symptoms of bulimia nervosa (swollen glands, sensitivity to cold, dry skin, depression, fatigue etc) but nothing organically more serious so far. That’s why my friends and relatives do not imagine that I purge most of my meals!!! However I am perfectly aware that it’s only a matter of time till things get serious and even fatal and irreversible!
    I have been anorexic and bulimic also in the past, but those phases did not last more than 6 months. This time it’s been too long and too steady: 5 whole years! Vomiting has become really easy. I drink water with my meals and I can easily vomit as soon as I bend and slightly press my stomach!

    Anyway, I am really determined to turn over a new leaf and quit bulimia once and for all. I would just like to ask you if the organic damage caused so far can still be reversed if I follow a healthy diet and exercise 3 times a week. Will my body manage to gradually recover entirely from all those organic damages? Could you please give me an approximate time plan of gradual recovery? For example: when should swollen glands become normal? When should dry skin recover? etc. Recovery is my strongest motive and encouragement.

    Thank you in advance

    mkaffatou@yahoo.gr

  14. Liz says:

    I was hoping you could answer a question.. I have not purged for many years, yet my face still swells up and down. It does not stay puffy permanently but changes from day to day, especially if I binge…I am wondering whether this is my body remembering the reaction,, like a pavolovian effect, even thought the purging has ceased? Any thoughts? have you heard of this before and do you have any advice? Thank you. Your help is really appreciated.

  15. Tasha says:

    This was an interesting bittersweet article! I was just wondering; I feel like I have aged so much since I’ve practiced my habits! I started when I was 15 and I’m now 19. I’ve never been underweight and I only threw up for the 2 first years of the 4 so far. I use laxatives instead- in large doses. I’ve been hospitalized once but that’s about the extent of my damage. My teeth aren’t rotten and everything seems to be working. My face always looks fat to me but my mom says it tends to swell when I’m at my worst. Can the glands still get swollen through laxatives somehow, or most likely not? Secondly, do most bulimics have face damage down the road from so much exhaustion- swelling, unselling-? One of my friends said this is true.
    I’m trying so hard to quit; wish I had never started and and just been happy being healthy.

  16. sasha says:

    thank you for the website- the more info and support there is to help treat bulimia the better.

    I see a lot of the comments are from those beginning recovery- I’m also in the process of recovering-from 8 years of bulimia. I started out at 1 and 2 days of not purging…and when I got to three I was ecstatic. Months and months of therapy and plenty of successes (and setbacks), I’m now at 14 or so days at a time bulimia free, and setbacks only last one or two days at a time. I don’t think I’ll ever be completely ‘recovered’- there will always be a vulnerability…but it is so nice to finally be able to take control of my life and be HAPPY and productive and in control and really ENJOY myself!

    Well done beautiful people you’re travelling in the right direction! x*mwah*x

  17. Liz says:

    I just came across this article and would like to give everyone struggling with bulimia right now a HUGE hug. I myself have struggled with it, to varying degrees of severity – which i hated, for about 15 years. My binges have become less and less frequent (probably every six months) and i would like to stop completely, but it is mostly therapy, long-term for me, that has been required to dig around underneath the behaviour and what i’m using it to mask. The approach to recovery will probably be different for everyone.
    But i would like to say that for the longest, longest time I thought that this was something that I would have to live with forever, that would mark me out, keep me separate from the world. I’m still working on a lot of other issues but YOU CAN GET BETTER! It actually happens (and this is from someone who never thought i would).
    Much love and and hope and hugs to everyone – it can happen. Just take the steps to get into recovery and your life will be so much better at the end.
    xxx

  18. Emily says:

    i have a slightly different problem with regards to swelling, and wonder if anyone can offer advice. my facial/glandular swelling seems to be kept in check when i purge (moderately, or about once a day or every other day). when i stop purging for extended periods, however, my face swells noticeably. the longest i have gone without purging is about a week to ten days, at which point my face is so swollen that i purge to reduce it. will the swelling go away on its own if i stop for longer periods? do i need medical treatment?

    thank you.

  19. Vathani says:

    Dear Emily,
    I am not a doctor, so you will need the correct diagnosis and treatment via a ENT specialist . You will need to go via your family doctor for this referral or privately I imagine. Make sure you mention that you are bulimic to get the proper understanding from a medic. In my years of experience the longer you give it, the better and lasting the result of swelling that goes down with it!.. otherwise you are perpetually trapped in a vicious cycle of purging for the sake of face gland size reduction.. which you know deep down inside that, this is not the solution for you or your healthy bulimia recovery. Get it checked soon, as they may be more internal damage or other side line complications present which wont be visible without proper test and examination. I wish you health Emily ! with warm wishes ~ Vathani

  20. Emily says:

    dear vathani,

    thank you for your reply–and for all that you’re doing to help people move towards or through recovery. i appreciate your advice very much.

    best,
    emily

  21. My twin sister has been bulimic for 44 years. She has lost teeth, has chipmunk cheeks, severe osteoporosis, reflux, a knee replacement, and a hip replacement from a fractured hip. The long term effects of this disease are crippling as you age. My poor parents died while desperately wanting her to stop.

  22. Please do not use my full name.

  23. Vathani says:

    Dear Sharen, Thank YOu for finding the courage to highlight the horrendous effects of bulimia – which so many dont even stop to think about. I am only hoping, by the time you read this that your twin sister has come around to the notion of prioritising her health and well being over being bulimic and has some of her health conditions stabilized.You are brave and inspirational to speak out about this ..so others will take on board the message you share with your own tragic sister’s experience with bulimia at such young age. I take my hat off to you for being her close relative and her long term carer & supporter! Wishing you love & happiness ~ Vathani

  24. Fatima says:

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me or i’ll die. i throw up upto 10 times a day and i can’t help myself. I had to get crowns for my teeth. my lymph nodes are swollen and the such a huge and hard lump has been formed. i used to have such thick hair which have almost completely shed off. and i stay constipated for 2 weeks. PLEASE HELP ME!

  25. Vathani says:

    Dear Fatima, thanks for reaching out for help. From the sounds of what you say, you are currently chaotic with your bulimia which is why your health is suffering the way it is. Can I ask if you have had any form of official CBT based treatment Lovely? Till you reach a level of inner restraint and confident it will be hard to try and embark on recovery all by your self. Relapses in these cases tend to be high. Do any of your lovedones know, and can they help you brave the process of making that initial referral? Of course I can help you! Can you PM at Vathani@bulimiahope.com with some details of what you have tried and what has remotely worked with you in the past for you please? I shall send you a questionnaire and some video tips in the mean time to keep you going. Complete it and I shall offer you a call if you like and offer you some free advice. If you are interested in my 12 week Online Self Help Course, or coming on to my Beat Bulimia workshop (London, UK only) then let me know asap ok? Both takes place this week. For now aim to reduce your B&P by half, each day bringing it gradually down by one less episode ok Lovely. Wishing you great health soon ~ Vathani

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