Compulsive Eating Disorder
Pica is a compulsive eating disorder where the person will eat small objects like dirt, hair, paint flakes, and ashes. This condition is most common in children as it usually develops at an early age, but it is possible for adults to develop it as well. Pica is easier to treat when the symptoms first appear. The longer the symptoms continue, the more likely it is that they will become a habit and coping mechanism, which is more difficult to stop.
Eating objects with no nutritional value has obvious health risks. People with pica will suffer frequent stomach aches and, over time, may develop more serious problems such as bloody stool, tooth injuries, infections, and led poisoning.
Don’t ignore symptoms of pica. Call Tapestry in Asheville today for a confidential consultation.
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Since pica most often develops in children, it is up to the parents and medical professionals to identify the symptoms. Unfortunately, even children with pica can be secretive and it is not always easy to see them eating things they shouldn’t be eating. If your child suffers from frequent stomach aches, you may want to ask your doctor to examine them for pica.
How to identify pica:
- Frequent stomach aches with seemingly no cause
- There is a higher risk of pica due to a pre-existing developmental disability
- You have seen someone eat grass, paint chips, ash, or other objects several times
- Diagnostic tests may reveal side effects from eating abnormal objects
- Blood tests reveal low levels of zinc or iron, a deficiency which can prompt a child to develop pica
The Treatment Approach
First and foremost, it is important to address any medical effects that may have been caused by pica. This could include managing diarrhea, stomach pains, ulcers, and other possible side effects. With those dangers taken care of, treatment can focus on addressing the root cause of pica. Pica is primarily a mental condition that can be treated with therapy and education.