Pica is a compulsive eating disorder in which people eat nonfood items. Dirt, clay, and flaking paint are the most common items eaten. Less common items include glue, hair, cigarette ashes, and feces. It can also occur in children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as autism. On rare occasions, pregnant women crave strange, nonfood items. For these women, pica often involves eating dirt and may be related to an iron and zinc deficiency.
These symptoms are the result of the toxic, poisonous, and bacterial content of the nonfood items. Repeatedly eating nonfood items over a period of time can cause:. Many typical children chew on things such as their nails and ice, or mouth their toys and hair. These are normal habits. But a person diagnosed with pica repeatedly eats nonfood items, even if they make him or her sick. They should be seen by a doctor.
Treatment for pica will address several areas. Pica cannot be prevented. Proper nutrition may help some children keep from developing it.
If you pay close attention to eating habits and supervise children who tend to put things into their mouths, you may be able to catch the disorder early, before complications can happen. If your child has been diagnosed with pica, you can reduce his or her risk of eating nonfood items by keeping those items out of reach in your home. Most children outgrow pica as they get older.
It usually goes away in a few months. However, high-risk populations, such as children and adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, may need continued monitoring of their behavior and environment.
This article was contributed by: familydoctor. This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that causes unwanted thoughts obsessions and repetitive behaviors compulsions. There are many different treatments available to help individuals. Eating healthy is more critical than ever during pregnancy.
Your food should reflect….Eating disorders are serious conditions related to persistent eating behaviors that negatively impact your health, your emotions and your ability to function in important areas of life. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. Most eating disorders involve focusing too much on your weight, body shape and food, leading to dangerous eating behaviors.
These behaviors can significantly impact your body's ability to get appropriate nutrition. Eating disorders can harm the heart, digestive system, bones, and teeth and mouth, and lead to other diseases. Eating disorders often develop in the teen and young adult years, although they can develop at other ages.
With treatment, you can return to healthier eating habits and sometimes reverse serious complications caused by the eating disorder. Symptoms vary, depending on the type of eating disorder.
Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder are the most common eating disorders. Anorexia an-o-REK-see-uh nervosa — often simply called anorexia — is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of weight or shape. People with anorexia use extreme efforts to control their weight and shape, which often significantly interferes with their health and life activities. When you have anorexia, you excessively limit calories or use other methods to lose weight, such as excessive exercise, using laxatives or diet aids, or vomiting after eating.
Efforts to reduce your weight, even when underweight, can cause severe health problems, sometimes to the point of deadly self-starvation. Bulimia boo-LEE-me-uh nervosa — commonly called bulimia — is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder. When you have bulimia, you have episodes of bingeing and purging that involve feeling a lack of control over your eating.
Many people with bulimia also restrict their eating during the day, which often leads to more binge eating and purging. During these episodes, you typically eat a large amount of food in a short time, and then try to rid yourself of the extra calories in an unhealthy way. Because of guilt, shame and an intense fear of weight gain from overeating, you may force vomiting or you may exercise too much or use other methods, such as laxatives, to get rid of the calories.
If you have bulimia, you're probably preoccupied with your weight and body shape, and may judge yourself severely and harshly for your self-perceived flaws. You may be at a normal weight or even a bit overweight. When you have binge-eating disorder, you regularly eat too much food binge and feel a lack of control over your eating.
You may eat quickly or eat more food than intended, even when you're not hungry, and you may continue eating even long after you're uncomfortably full. After a binge, you may feel guilty, disgusted or ashamed by your behavior and the amount of food eaten. But you don't try to compensate for this behavior with excessive exercise or purging, as someone with bulimia or anorexia might.
Embarrassment can lead to eating alone to hide your bingeing. A new round of bingeing usually occurs at least once a week. You may be normal weight, overweight or obese.
Rumination disorder is repeatedly and persistently regurgitating food after eating, but it's not due to a medical condition or another eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder.
Food is brought back up into the mouth without nausea or gagging, and regurgitation may not be intentional. Sometimes regurgitated food is rechewed and reswallowed or spit out. The disorder may result in malnutrition if the food is spit out or if the person eats significantly less to prevent the behavior. The occurrence of rumination disorder may be more common in infancy or in people who have an intellectual disability.
This disorder is characterized by failing to meet your minimum daily nutrition requirements because you don't have an interest in eating; you avoid food with certain sensory characteristics, such as color, texture, smell or taste; or you're concerned about the consequences of eating, such as fear of choking.
Food is not avoided because of fear of gaining weight. The disorder can result in significant weight loss or failure to gain weight in childhood, as well as nutritional deficiencies that can cause health problems.
An eating disorder can be difficult to manage or overcome by yourself. Eating disorders can virtually take over your life.Typical non-food things a person might eat when diagnosed with pica include: wool, talcum powder, paint, cloth or clothing, hair, dirt or pebbles, paper, gum, soap, and ice.
Pica does not include someone who ingests diet foods or drinks that have no or minimal nutritional value. Generally pica is not diagnosed in children younger than 2 years old, because many infants will attempt to eat things that are not edible as a part of normal childhood development.
Sometimes pica might be diagnosed in conjunction with another mental disorder diagnosis such as in autism or schizophrenia. If pica is the focus of clinical attention during treatment in addition to another mental health concern, it should generally also be diagnosed.
For instance, a 12 year old eating dirt would generally be considered inappropriate, while it would be appropriate for a 5 year old. If the eating behavior occurs exclusively during the course of another mental disorder e. It is not uncommon for a woman who is pregnant to have non-food cravings, but unless it is a very severe and persistent problem, it generally is not diagnosed.
It is generally only diagnosed when the behavior may result in increased medical risks to the individual, since many substances can be physically harmful. When left untreated, the course of the disorder may be lengthy e. He is an author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University.
Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here. Pica Symptoms. Psych Central. All rights reserved. Find help or get online counseling now. By John M. Grohol, Psy. Symptoms of Pica Pica symptoms include: Persistent eating of non-nutritive substances for a period of at least 1 month.
ICDCM code: Hot Topics Today 1. Does Covid Cause Abnormal Menstruation? Three Women's Traumatic Experiences.The list of signs and symptoms mentioned in various sources for Pica includes the 1 symptoms listed below: Repetitive compulsive eating non-food substances e.
Research all specialists including ratings, affiliations, and sanctions. More about symptoms of Pica: More information about symptoms of Pica and related conditions: Other diseases with similar symptoms and common misdiagnoses Tests to determine if these are the symptoms of Pica Underlying causes of Pica Pica as a symptom: For a more detailed analysis of Pica as a symptom, including causes, drug side effect causes, and drug interaction causes, please see our Symptom Center information for Pica.
These general reference articles may be of interest in relation to medical signs and symptoms of disease in general: More about Pica Online Diagnosis Self Diagnosis Pitfalls Pitfalls of Online Diagnosis Symptoms of the Silent Killer Diseases Lesser known silent killer diseases Books on signs and symptoms Full list of premium articles on symptoms and diagnosis.
The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible signs and symptoms of Pica. This signs and symptoms information for Pica has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of Pica signs or Pica symptoms. Furthermore, signs and symptoms of Pica may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of any signs or symptoms and whether they are indeed Pica symptoms.
What is Pica Disease?
Young kids often put non-food items like grass or toys in their mouths because they're curious about the world around them. But kids with pica PIE-kuh go beyond that. Sometimes they eat things that can lead to health problems. Health problems can happen in kids with pica, depending on what they eat.
These can include:. Most cases of pica happen in young children and pregnant women. It's normal for kids up to 2 years old to put things in their mouth. So the behavior isn't usually considered a disorder unless a child is older than 2. Pica usually improves as kids get older. But for people with developmental or mental health concerns, it can still be a problem later in life.
Doctors can help parents manage and stop pica-related behaviors.
For example, they can work with parents on ways to prevent kids from getting the non-food things they eat. They may recommend childproof locks and high shelving to keep items out of reach.
Some kids with pica need help from a psychologist or other mental health professional. If these treatments do not work, doctors can also prescribe medicines. Larger text size Large text size Regular text size.A feline with a mild case of pica may suck or lick on inedible objects, but not actually consume said object. However, in severe cases of pica, the feline will consume the object entirely, posing a risk for intestinal blockage, tearing of the digestive tract, toxicity, and electrocution.
Common target objects for feline pica include; plants, electric cords, phone cords, wool, fabric, string, or yarn. The cause behind pica is unknown, however, disease and behavioral disorders are thought to be the underlying cause behind this unusual behavior. Oriental cat breeds, such as the Siamese cat, are commonly affected by pica and it is believed to be a genetic disposition. If your cat licks, sucks, or consumes objects around the home that are not food, she could be suffering from a condition called pica.
Pica in cats is the act of eating objects that are not food. Eating non-food items can be very dangerous to a cat, as chewing on electrical cords can cause a feline to be electrocuted, and plant consumption can be toxic.
Other inedible objects, such as clothing, can block the intestine and prevent food from passing. Pica is a serious behavioral issue that can become fatal if not addressed by a veterinarian. Pica in cats only has one clinical sign and that is consumption of inedible objects. Common target objects for feline pica include; plants, electric cords, phone cords, wool, fabric, string or yarn. Felines with a mild case of pica may not consume the object, but chew, lick or suck on said inedible object.
Secondary conditions of pica in cats may include:. Research is still being conducted to find the exact cause of pica in cats, but veterinarians have linked the behavioral condition to several possible causes including:.
The diagnosis of pica in cats begins with an exchange of notes between the veterinarian and the pet owner. As pica can be caused by stressful or new situations, it is important to recall any new change in your schedule that may affect the feline. Move to a new home, work schedule change, etc.
Pica in Cats
The veterinarian will then proceed to diagnostic examinations. He or she will want to conduct blood tests, including a complete blood cell count, blood smear, and biochemistry profile. The doctor may also ask for a urinalysis to detect the possibility of underlying disease that may be causing pica in the feline.
The treatment for pica in cats is variable, as it lies dependent on the underlying cause and the results from diagnostic exams. If the veterinarian has found an underlying disease, the treatment will be specified by the veterinary medical professional, but if your feline has received a clean bill of health, treatment may include:. Boredom is a common cause for pica, so structured playtime with the feline can prevent boredom and fulfill the need to be active.
Malnourished felines may chew on inappropriate objects if their diet is lacking in adequate nutrients. The prognosis for cats displaying pica behavior is guarded. If your cat does not improve with the treatments recommended by your veterinarian, he or she may refer you to a veterinary behaviorist. I have a 14 yr old male tabby.
Then he started licking the cement outside. Took him to the vet and she saw constipation but xrays didn't show any particular item clogging him. Blood tests show no pica.Pica is a psychological disorder characterized by an appetite for substances that are largely non-nutritive, such as ice pagophagia ; hair trichophagia ; paper xylophagia ;  drywall or paint; sharp objects acuphagia ;  metal metallophagia ; stones lithophagia or soil geophagia ; glass hyalophagia ; feces coprophagia ; and chalk.
Symptoms of Pica
According to DSM-V Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition criteria, for these actions to be considered pica, they must persist for more than one month at an age where eating such objects is considered developmentally inappropriate, not part of culturally sanctioned practice, and sufficiently severe to warrant clinical attention.
It can lead to intoxication in children, which can result in an impairment of both physical and mental development. Stressors such as emotional trauma, maternal deprivation, family issues, parental neglect, pregnancy, and a disorganized family structure [ failed verification ] are strongly linked to pica as a form of comfort. Pica is most commonly seen in pregnant women small children, and persons with developmental disabilities such as autism.
There is a similar risk from eating soil near roads that existed before the phase-out of tetraethyllead or that were sprayed with oil to settle dust contaminated by toxic PCBs or dioxin. In addition to poisoning, there is also a much greater risk of gastro-intestinal obstruction or tearing in the stomach. Another risk of eating soil is the ingestion of animal feces and accompanying parasites. Pica can also be found in other animals and is commonly found in dogs  and cats.
Pica is the consumption of substances with no significant nutritional value such as soil, soap or ice. This pattern of eating should last at least one month to meet the diagnostic criteria of pica. Complications may occur due to the substance consumed.
For example, lead poisoning may result from the ingestion of paint or paint-soaked plaster hairballs may cause intestinal obstruction and Toxoplasma or Toxocara infections may follow ingestion of feces or dirt. According to the DSM 5, mineral deficiencies are occasionally associated with pica; however, biological abnormalities are rarely found in individuals with pica. Sensory, physiological, cultural and psychosocial perspectives have also been used by some to explain the causation of pica.
However, pica can also be a cultural practice not associated with a deficiency or disorder. Ingestion of kaolin white clay among African-American women in the US state of Georgia shows the practice there to be a DSM-IV " culture-bound syndrome " and "not selectively associated with other psychopathology". There is no single test that confirms pica. However, because pica can occur in people who have lower than normal nutrient levels and poor nutrition malnutritionthe health care provider should test blood levels of iron and zinc.
Hemoglobin can also be checked to test for anemia. Lead levels should always be checked in children who may have eaten paint or objects covered in lead-paint dust. The health care provider should test for infection if the person has been eating contaminated soil or animal waste.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th editionposits four criteria that must be met for a person to be diagnosed with pica: .
In individuals with autismschizophreniaand certain physical disorders such as Kleine-Levin syndromenonnutritive substances may be eaten. In such instances, pica should not be noted as an additional diagnosis. Treatment for pica may vary by patient and suspected cause e. An initial approach often involves screening for and, if necessary, treating any mineral deficiencies or other comorbid conditions. Looking back at the different causes of pica related to assessment, the clinician will try to develop a treatment.
First, there is pica as a result of social attention. A strategy might be used of ignoring the person's behavior or giving them the least possible attention. If their pica is a result of obtaining a favorite item, a strategy may be used where the person is able to receive the item or activity without eating inedible items. The individual's communication skills should increase so that they can relate what they want to another person without engaging in this behavior.
If pica is a way for a person to escape an activity or situation, the reason why the person wants to escape the activity should be examined and the person should be moved to a new situation. If pica is motivated by sensory feedback, an alternative method of feeling that sensation should be provided.
Other non-medication techniques might include other ways for oral stimulation such as gum. Foods such as popcorn have also been found helpful. Behavior-based treatment options can be useful for developmentally disabled and mentally ill individuals with pica. Many use aversion therapy, where the patient learns through positive reinforcement which foods are good and which ones they should not eat.
Often treatment is similar to the treatment of obsessive compulsive or addictive disorders such as exposure therapy.