Because anorexia is basically self-starvation, the body is denied the essential nutrients it needs to function normally. As a result, it is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy. This "slowing down" can have serious medical consequences, including an abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure. The risk for heart failure rises as heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower. Thyroid function slows, menstrual periods stop, and even breathing slows down. Nails and hair become brittle, the skin dries and yellows. Girls may become very thirsty and urinate often, as dehydration contributes to constipation and reduced body fat leads to lowered body temperature.
Children with anorexia also can develop osteoporosis, muscle loss and weakness, severe dehydration leading to kidney failure, fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness, hair loss, and growth of a downy layer of hair called lanugo all over the body, including the face. As the girl's weight plummets, vital organs such as the brain and heart can be damaged.
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