People who persistently eat dirt, paint or other non-nutritional substances suffer from the Pica eating disorder.
Today, we’re going to share some important health information about the pica eating disorder, which may cause relatively little harm, moderate harm or significant harm. It is an eating disorder that needs to be addressed.
In severe cases, the disorder may be life-threatening.
The severity of the disorder will depend on what is ingested and for how long. In general, people with this eating disorder ingest substances which are non-nutritional for least a month and their ingestion of these substances is not age-appropriate. However, kids may also suffer from this eating disorder.
Once you’ve gained a deeper understanding of what it is and what may be done about it, you’ll be primed to get help if you suffer from the Pica eating disorder or know someone who does.
The Pica Eating Disorder is Actually Quite Common
This eating disorder affects four to twenty-six percent of people who are institutionalized. The statistics for non-institutionalized sufferers are not available, although case studies for specific patients are out there.
When a doctor believes that a patient may be suffering from this form of eating disorder, he or she may run tests which are designed to assess the level of damage that the disorder has caused. For example, the patient may be tested for blockages in the intestinal tract and will likely also be tested for anemia and toxicity.
A medical history will be compiled, if it’s not already in a patient’s file, and a full physical exam will be performed.
Blood tests and X-ray tests are also utilized in order to see what impact the Pica eating disorder is having on a patient’s general health. In addition, a physician may test to see if infections are present. Some substances that people with this eating disorder ingest may carry germs (or other forms of organisms) which trigger infections.
Also, the doctor will review the eating habits of the patient.
As well, the psychological elements of the Pica eating disorder will be considered. For example, a doctor will consider whether or not the patient suffers from a developmental disability and/or a psychological disorder (such as OCD) and/or mental retardation, which is driving the desire to consume non-nutritional substances.
In order to formally diagnose Pica, a doctor must establish that the eating disorder has been present for at least thirty days.
Treatment Options for Pica Eating Disorders
With every type of eating disorder, there is always hope. There are treatments for eating disorders and getting proper treatment is essential to recovery and good physical and psychological health.
Patients who are being treated for the Pica eating disorder are monitored by their doctors. The disorder boosts the odds of lead poisoning and other health problems. As well, patients will typically collaborate with mental health professionals who are able to address the root psychological causes of the disorder and treat them via therapy and/or medication.
Children with the disorder will be taught which substances are safe to eat and which aren’t, with a mind to changing their eating behavior. They should be rewarded with praise when they avoid eating non-nutritional substances. Positive reinforcement is very important.
With a combination of medical monitoring/treatment and psychological counseling/treatment, a patient may be able to stop eating substances which threaten his or her health.