QUESTION: My 12 year old daughter is anorexic, started about a year ago. I am told of the dangers of anorexia but I am in the dark as to how quickly these will or could happen.

I know she has had dizzy spells.

Please advice me

ANSWER: Hi, Jenny,

I can't answer this question without knowing her prior weight, what it is now, what sort of therapy she is getting and what sort, if any, blood tests have been done.  Give me some additional information and I would be happy to help you.

Good luck, Dr. Olson (great performance in the Olympics for your tiny country!)

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QUESTION: She is 4ft 3 and I know it is small for her age I am tiny too (5.1ft) and was only a inch or so taller then she is at that age, she weighed 59lbs last year (August) now she is down to 50lbs.

No blood tests as yet we are to see a therapist within a month.

It is something we come to light just recently.I read a lot on the net about the health problems associated with anorexia. Been told not to allow any more weight loss because of the danger of permanent damage, yet the nurse refused to open up further. I just left without any information and need some truth

She become a fussy eater about a year ago, but here in the UK we have a campaign of healthy eating in schools and a drive to cut obesity, so when she started cutting back on things Itook no notice.

Yes we did well in the Olympics yes.My daughter Emma is a brilliant skier so maybe in a few years time :)Wishful thinking.

WE did take her to our GP in November because she had become very pale and still is blood tests were taken then but nothing was found

ANSWER: Hi, Jenny,

Thanks for the additional information.  

At this time, she has lost about 20% of her body weight, slowly over time.  This is significant, but kids with anorexia can lose weight slowly and not have many symptoms.

I am surprised that it will take a month to see a therapist.  This is important and should not, in my mind, and in the USA, take this long.  I would recommend pushing this onward to make the counseling appt sooner.  

Repeating the blood tests with a follow-up visit to the doctor would be reassuring to be sure the electrolytes, hemoglobin, serum proteins, kidney function and liver function are still stable.  

Try to get the counseling on a fast track.  There is little you can do as a parent to force her to eat and doing this will probably be conter-productive in the long run.

Good luck, Dr. Olson

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QUESTION: Thanks,I will see my GP again on Monday when we get back to the uk

We do not push her to eat although it is hard not to, I try and encourage her towards things like yogurts which works sometimes.

I have read a lot about brittle bones,heart damage, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, kidney and liver problems, low body temperature. ARe these unlikely in the short term?

why is she feeling so dizzy at times do you think.

Hi, Jenny,

It is true that kids with long term anorexia nervosa can have all the problems you mention.  She should not have those if this is corrected.  The dizziness is kind of non-specific, but this could be due to inadequate calories and fluids.

Good luck, Dr. Olson


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David Olson, MD


I would be happy to attempt to answer any questions about general pediatric topics, either medical issues or behavioral issues. This would include all the various questions one receives in a busy pediatric practice. I`m a board certified pediatrician in northern Michigan and have been in practice for over 15 years. I enjoy the teaching role I have in our practice and would enjoy the opportunity to help others with their pediatric problems.

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