Pica-An Unusual Craving for Solid Non Food Items

What Actually Pica is?

Pica is the unusual craving to eat items that are not nutritious content of a normal person. The items may be solids like ice, metals, pieces of dried paints. It looks like fictitious or an unbelievable thing but it truly exists in certain medical conditions.

What Causes Pica?

Pica is multifactorial in respect to its cause or risk factors. So no single cause can be associated with the pica. Observational studies have shown that deficiency in micronutrients, iron, and zinc may be the cause associated with pica. For example, anemia in a pregnant woman may cause pica due to iron deficiency. The body tries to replenish the nutritional deficiency by unusual cravings for pica.

High-Risk People to Develop Pica

People with abnormal mental conditions

Pregnant woman and children

some people attracted to the flavors or smell of nonfood items e.g. petrol or clay

Certain acquired behaviors may lead to pica e.g. dieting to reduce weight

Consequences of Pica

Eating metal may  lead to poisoning .e.g. Lead poisoning

The intestinal route may be obstructed with nonabsorbable undigested material

Normal Microflora may be disturbed by the intake of these items resulting in infection

Respiratory obstruction may be the other route based consequence

Diagnosis and Treatment of Pica

Diagnosis is mostly history-based. The patient history of long-term craving for unusual material is a clue for a doctor to make a diagnosis. In some cases often complicated one the obvious signs may appear as in lead poisoning cases.

Treatment is often symptomatic. Try to eliminate cause to get fully recovered. chelate therapy in case of lead poisoning is an effective treatment.

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