You must have seen TV shows such as My Strange Addiction and The Woman Who Ate a House in which Pica has been shown in the best way. Pica is an eating disorder in which a person desires to eat non-edible items such as dirt, paint, metal. Pica disorder occurs most often in children and pregnant women and usually temporary.
What Causes Pica?
There is no specific reason behind Pica disorder. It can be due to any reason.
Mineral deficiency such as iron, zinc may be associated with pica. Many pregnant women desire to eat dirt, clay or sand due to iron deficiency anaemia. Your unusual cravings can be a sign that your body is trying to replenish low nutrient levels through non digestible things. A malnutrition child may also suffer from pica.
People suffering from mental disorders like schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder have more chances to develop pica than others due to their coping mechanism.
Some people may also enjoy and crave the textures or flavors of certain nonfood items. When I was a kid I loved to chew the cloth especially the towels. Everyone used to scold me for that. But I used to like the flavour.
What All Can You Desire To Eat In Pica Disorder?
A person can eat anything depending on his choice or medical situation. Some of them are mentioned below:
- talcum powder
- clay, dirt, sand
- cigarette butts and ashes
- dried paint
How Is Pica Diagnosed?
There’s no specific test for pica. It is diagnosed on the basis of history, habit and several other factors.
Make a list of all the nonfood items you’ve eaten (When I was a kid, I had many like rubber, pencil, pen cap or plastic, clay, cloth, hair. Everyone used to scold me for that. Once I took Homeopathic treatment tablets they all are gone.
Your doctor may test your blood to see if you have low levels of zinc or iron. This can help your doctor learn if you have an underlying nutrient deficiency, such as anemia. Nutrient deficiencies may sometimes be related to pica.
Why Pica Can Be Deadly?
In my case Pica got treated and in most of cases it does. But Can pica be deadly or have serious complication. A study from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Statistical Briefs found that hospitalizations for pica increased by 93 percent between 1999 and 2009. Hence, this was the highest increase during that time of hospitalizations due to an eating disorder.
Eating certain nonfood items such as lead, mercury can sometimes lead to other serious conditions. These conditions can include:
- poisoning, such as lead poisoning
- parasitic infections
- intestinal blockages
How Is Pica Treated?
In these cases, vitamins, supplements, and a healthy diet can therefore correct pica. In cases of psychological disorder, we should deal the other way. Your treatment will depend upon any complications you’ve acquired from eating nonfood items. For example, if you have lead poisoning from eating paint chips, your doctor may prescribe chelation therapy or EDTA.
Medical Complications as a Result of Pica
Once an individual get his or her a pica diagnosis done, doctor will check for the following conditions:
- Iron deficiency and gastric pain in case of dirt and clay craving.
- Intestinal blockages or constipation as a result of objects that are difficult to digest, such as pebbles or metal
- Tears in the esophagus or intestines caused by hard or sharp objects, including paper clips or metal scraps
- In case of lead, kidney damage and cognitive delays
- Nutritional deficiencies that may occur when pica interferes with eating healthy food.