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The Facts About Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)
According to DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), there is a classification of disordered eating that falls outside of the criteria of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. This category is referred to as EDNOS – Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified – and represents a majority of those with eating disorders.
EDNOS covers those who fail to meet all guidelines for eating disorders, which means that they may not qualify for coverage for their illness. For example:
- A person with anorexia who weights 87% of her ideal body weight (IBW) technically has an EDNOS, because the guidelines say the individual should weigh no more than 85% of IBW to be considered anorexic.
- A woman who meets the weight criteria for anorexia, but still has her period would be classified as having an EDNOS.
- A person with EDNOS who binges and purges once a week technically has an EDNOS, because the guidelines say the individual should binge and purge at least twice a week to be considered bulimic.
- A person with binge eating disorder (BED) who binges once a week technically has an EDNOS, because the guidelines say the individual should binge at least twice a week to be considered bulimic.
- A person who combines symptoms of anorexia and bulimia, but does not meet all of the medical criteria for either disease would be classified as having an EDNOS.
Walden Behavioral Care advocates a broadening of guidelines so that individuals who are classified as having an EDNOS can receive the treatment they need.
Current guidelines give those with an EDNOS an incentive to get worse, so they can receive coverage for their illness. It is difficult for those with eating disorders to achieve recovery, but the earlier treatment begins, the greater the probability of recovery.
Other Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)
While most people with eating disorders have anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder, but there are also other less common eating disorders that are classified as EDNOS. These disorders include:
Pica is a compulsive craving for eating, chewing or licking non-food items, such things as paint chips, chalk, plaster, glue, rust, ice, coffee grounds or cigarette ashes. It is sometimes linked to deficiencies of minerals, such as iron or zinc. Pica can lead to medical conditions such as lead poisoning, malnutrition, abdominal problems, intestinal obstruction, hypokalemia, hyperkalemia, mercury poisoning, phosphorus intoxication and dental ailments.
Individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome, which is caused by a defect in the hypothalamus, have an insatiable appetite. It can result in sleep disorders, rage, compulsive behavior and even psychoses, Physical conditions may include obesity, delayed motor development, abnormal growth, speech impairments, stunted sexual development, poor muscle tone, dental problems and diabetes type II.
Night Eating Syndrome
Those with night eating syndrome typically eat little or nothing during the morning, but binge during the evening. Resulting conditions may be the same as for binge eating, with the addition of sleep disorders.
Also known as muscle dysmorphia or reverse anorexia, individuals with bigorexia worry that they are too small and go to great lengths to increase their muscle mass. The disorder is common among body builders, whose steroid use and extreme high-protein diets can lead to kidney failure and other ailments.
Medical Impact of EDNOS
Those with Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) suffer the same symptoms as anyone else with eating disorders. The only difference is that EDNOS sufferers may not qualify for insurance coverage, because they fail to meet the guidelines for eating disorders.
Like those who meet the guidelines for anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, those with Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) are in danger of serious medical conditions, such as osteoporosis, retarded growth, kidney problems, ulcers and heart failure. Like other eating disorders, EDNOS can lead to death.
For additional information about the impact of EDNOS, see the information on this Web site about anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.
Signs of EDNOS
The signs of EDNOS vary, depending on the underlying eating disorder. See the information on this Web site about anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.
Helping Someone With EDNOS
If you suspect you or someone you know has EDNOS, do something about it. Seek professional counseling immediately. Call your primary care physician or an eating disorders treatment program in your area.