LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As many as 24 million people in the United States suffer from eating disorders, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. With sparse literature available about anorexia in males, the clinical characteristics of this condition are often overlooked as an underlying cause of other medical issues, says Aren Skolnick, D.O.
In a presentation at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 23rd Annual Scientific and Clinical Congress in Las Vegas, Skolnick presented a study of hospitalized patients who exhibited multiple systemic complications stemming from severe malnutrition.
It has been reported that males only make up about 10 percent of the anorexia population. However, Skolnick estimates that the percentage is probably as high as 25 percent, due to underreporting and misdiagnosis of the condition in males. He said that the presentation of anorexia in men is atypical and that the stigma of the condition as a “female disorder” makes it more challenging to diagnose in men.
“Talking to the patient and taking a history is the most important thing. Find out their eating habits, social support, nutrition intake, etc. That’s going to tell you a lot of what you need to know,” said Skolnick.
In his case studies, Skolnick said the patients presented with a variety of non-specific symptoms including abnormal thyroid function and hypogonadism, among others. Skolnick said that one of the patients had refused to eat for more than three weeks, while another had been taking diet pills. A multidisciplinary approach had to be taken in order to resolve the patient’s condition, starting by addressing their starvation.
None of the treatments for the other medical issues, such as hypothyroidism, would work while the patients were in such a severely malnourished state. Skolnick said that giving thyroid hormones in these cases won’t make a difference because when the body is in a starvation state, the conversion of the thyroid hormones won’t happen. Once his patients were treated with nutrition, most of the endocrinopathies resolved on their own with no additional measures needed.
“This is why it’s so important to diagnose this, because all the treatment they need is safe nutrition. The most important thing to get out of these cases is to just keep anorexia in the back of your mind,” said AACE President Jeffrey I. Mechanick, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.E., F.A.C.N., E.C.N.U., who is also senior author on this study. “If a young, malnourished man comes in and there are multiple hormonal dysfunctions and things aren’t fitting together, it should raise a red flag. Male anorexia is not usually thought of in a hospital setting.”
For a brief bio and photo of Dr. Skolnick, please click here.
About the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE)
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) represents more than 6,500 endocrinologists in the United States and abroad. AACE is the largest association of clinical endocrinologists in the world. The majority of AACE members are certified in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism and concentrate on the treatment of patients with endocrine and metabolic disorders including diabetes, thyroid disorders, osteoporosis, growth hormone deficiency, cholesterol disorders, hypertension and obesity. Visit our site at www.aace.com.
About the American College of Endocrinology (ACE)
The American College of Endocrinology (ACE) is the educational and scientific arm of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE). ACE is the leader in advancing the care and prevention of endocrine and metabolic disorders by providing professional education and reliable public health information; recognizing excellence in education, research and service; promoting clinical research and defining the future of clinical endocrinology. For more information, please visit www.aace.com/college.