Pica Eating Disorder: Understanding Its Effects on A Person


A person can develop an eating disorder at any age. They often start with growing cravings for food. They also become too preoccupied with how they look, especially with their weight and body shape.

In critical cases, these eating behavior disorders can lead to severe health issues. Sometimes it can even result in one’s death if left without getting treated.

Many disorders have various symptoms. Most of these issues involve purging, restrictions on the food to eat, and even vomiting. But there is one eating disorder unique from the others.

Understanding Pica Disorder

Pica is a unique eating disorder that involves a person eating items that are not considered as food. Food ingestion also includes items with no nutritional value. Some things they eat are ice, chalk, soap, cloth, pebbles, and even hair.

This eating disorder can happen in both adults and children. Yet, it is most prevalent among children and women who are pregnant. It also affects people with mental disabilities.

Individuals who suffer from pica are at high risk of infections and poisoning. They are also prone to having gut injuries and nutritional insufficiencies.

How Do You Diagnose Pica?

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There are no laboratory tests made to diagnose pica. But if you suspect that your loved one experiences it, then doctors will have to check their clinical history.

Once the patient agrees with the series of tests, then the doctor will perform a medical evaluation. It is crucial so they can check for any signs of anemia. It’ll also help them identify any foreign objects that are blocking the intestines. They will also review the toxicity level inside the body coming from the items ingested.

If the person displays any symptoms, the doctor will start reviewing medical history. They will also perform a physical exam. The doctor will also check for any potential signs of infections from ingesting objects. It’s an important aspect of preventing microbial and bacterial contamination.

Finally, before diagnosing the case as a pica disorder, the doctor will check to see if there are other symptoms present. That is because other conditions may affect the development of eating behavior. The behavioral pattern must be present for over 30 days to confirm that it is a pica disorder.

Treating Pica Disorder

Provided the number of risks involved with pica disorder, medical professionals will perform close monitoring while the patient is in a center for eating disorder. Also, working with a team of mental health experts in pica disorder is ideal for getting the treatment.

One of the first sets of treatments for this eating disorder includes testing for any mineral and nutrient deficiencies. Most of the time, people with eating disorders recover after their mineral and nutrient deficits get replenished. Various behavioral interventions can also help to treat pica disorder.

These are only a few of the things that you need to know about pica disorder. If you suspect any of your loved ones have it, then it is best to get in touch with medical experts immediately.

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