Did you know that the famous Pokemon Pikachu is derived from Pica? By the way total lie, just kidding. Pica has nothing to do with Machu Picchu nor is a distant cousin of mica. What it is? It is an eating disorder that contains many types. Simply when people consume anything inedible and definitely with no nutritional value, after outgrowing the age to consider it normal is understood as PICA. It stands for Persistent Ingestion of Non-nutritive Substances. Remember how in young age we all experimented with dirt, chalk, even nose picking, that was all part of growing up. But if you were to take any of it up now and continue to do it for a month or longer, you’ll be diagnosed with Pica.
Pica is like the tree, with many conditions stemming out as branches like: ingesting hair (trichophagia), paper, wood (xylophagia), soil,dirt,chalk(geophagia), stones(lithophagia), dust(coniophagia), feces(coprophagia), metal(metallophagia). Soap, ice, buttons, glue are also part of this bizarre list.
Depending upon the substances it can lead to various complications. Common among those are poisoning, parasitic infections, intestinal blockage, haemorrhage, physical and mental developmental arrest in children. Owing to its large spread of types, it’s hard to point a single definitive cause. Yet some of the causes that may lead to such cravings include:
- Vitamin or mineral deficiency like iron, zinc
- Being anemic or lower hemoglobin levels
- Certain mental conditions like OCD and schizophrenia
Also in some cultures, following such practices is commonplace in which case they no longer are covered as pica. According to DSM-IV pica is considered a mental disorder.
Next comes the diagnosis, as is the case with most mental disorders there is not one particular test used to diagnose it. Medical tests will be done to check for deficiency, x-rays, and screenings to determine any problems or blockage in the intestinal tract. Psychological tests to ascertain any underlying mental disorders. Mostly the success of diagnosis depends upon your honesty with your doctor.
Obviously, the treatment strategy is determined by the outcome of diagnosis. Stating from working to repair the damage caused by consuming such stuff, then adding multi-vitamins to your diet to curb such hazardous craving. Also how you fared on psychological evaluation, general behavioural therapies and any specific treatment is applied. There can be medications for specific conditions, but so far as a whole therapy is an approach being taken rather than medication against this foe. Additionally learning to segregate what to eat from what not to eat helps.
In the end, try and understand why are you creating a problem for yourself, if it provides any kind of satisfaction, or if it gets triggered in certain situations. Understanding that can be your breakthrough to overcome this condition. Resolve to eat healthy and stay happy.