Serum electrolytes as markers of vomiting in bulimia nervosa

Scott J Crow, Juanita J. Salisbury, Ross D. Crosby, James E. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Patients with bulimia nervosa often have serum electrolyte abnormalities that result from vomiting and/or laxative or diuretic use. Thus, serum electrolytes could serve as an objective marker of such behaviors. Method: This study is a retrospective examination of serum electrolyte levels and vomiting behavior in 138 bulimic women, and of serum electrolyte levels in 70 control women. Results: Logistic regression analyses demonstrated that only potassium values distinguished bulimic subjects from controls. Potassium levels below the lower limit of normal (3.7 mg/l) occurred only in the bulimic group. Discussion: Abnormally low values for potassium are a specific, but not sensitive, predictor of recent vomiting episodes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-98
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997

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