What are the Signs and Symptoms of Pica?
Pica is an eating disorder that involves a person eating items not typically thought of as food and which contain no significant nutritional value—things such as hair, dirt, and paint chips.
A newer condition, only recently recognized as an eating disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), Pica sufferers at an increased risk of poisoning, infections, injuries and nutrition deficiencies. Depending on the substances ingested, pica can be fatal. Although it is most frequently observed in children, Pica can occur in adults.
If you suspect you or someone you love has Pica, we can help. Speak confidentially with a counselor right now by calling (888) 837-6577.
What are the Signs of Pica
Pica signs include:
- Persistent eating of substances that are not food and do not provide nutritional value.
- The ingestion of a substance which is not a part of culturally supported or socially normative practice—there are some strange cultural eating practices around the world.
- The ingestion of non-nutritive substances inappropriate to a person’s developmental level. For instance, a teenager eating dirt would generally be considered inappropriate, whereas a 2-year-old may not.
- Typical substances ingested may include paper, soap, cloth, hair, string, wool, soil, chalk, talcum powder, paint, gum, metal, pebbles, charcoal, ash, clay, starch, or ice.
What are the Symptoms of Pica
If you have pica, you may regularly eat things such as:
- cigarette butts
- cigarette ashes
- other non-food items
How Is Pica Diagnosed?
There is no medical test for pica. Medical and mental health professionals will diagnose this condition based on history and several other factors. You should be honest with your doctor about the non-food items you’ve eaten. This will help them form an accurate diagnosis.
What Are the Complications Associated with Pica?
Eating certain nonfood items can sometimes lead to other serious conditions. These conditions can include:
- poisoning, such as lead poisoning
- parasitic infections
- intestinal blockages
The proper diagnosis and treatment for Pica require both medical and mental health components. Mineral and nutrient deficiencies need to be discerned and corrected. Concerning eating behaviors need to be confronted. And any underlying mood or mental health triggers need to be identified and addressed.
Pica is treatable. Most who receive treatment recover and resume a healthy lifestyle. It is important for you to seek treatment as early as possible.
At Honey Lake Clinic, our experienced staff, licensed therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists understand that effective treatment for eating disorders requires a multifaceted, faith-based approach, involving healing of the body, mind, and spirit. Our unique treatment programs specifically and deeply address all three spheres, offering each client his or her greatest chance at wholeness and transformative growth.