(HealthDay News) -- Anorexia nervosa occurs when a person is consumed with body image, loses weight and often exercises compulsively. Although it can affect people of any age or gender, the American Academy of Family Physicians says it is most prevalent in teenage girls.
People with anorexia typically think they are fat, even though they may be very thin, and take drastic measures to lose weight.
Anorexics usually eat small portions of no- or low-calorie foods, often exercise compulsively, and are afraid of gaining weight or being overweight.
Other symptoms include no menstruation, dry or pale skin, hair loss, feeling cold, irritability and frequent illness. If the disease progresses for too long, an anorexic may die of starvation.
Anorexia is usually treated with counseling, and often hospitalization to address the underlying emotional issues. Many people with anorexia do not want or believe that they need help, making emotional support from family members and friends very important, the AAFP says.