When you hear the term eating disorder you most likely think about bulimia or anorexia. There is another eating disorder out there that is not as common but can be just as dangerous as the other more well-known disorders. This eating disorder is called pica.
The people who are afflicted with pica eat things that are not supposed to be eaten such as dirt, cotton balls, and even things like surgical tools.
From 1999-2009 the number of pica cases jumped 93%. There are sometimes different names if people that have pica eat certain foods. Someone who eats large amount of ice is said to have pagophagia or if someone eats clay it is geophagia. There is no limit to what kinds of non-food items pica patients will eat. And when they do eat them, it is usually in large quantities. They will usually focus on one item however instead of eating a little bit of everything.
When patients eat these items they can become very sick, develop infections, or have to undergo emergency surgery because their intestines are blocked or their organs have been perforated. They could become poisoned if the thing that they choose to eat is toxic. There are many different health complications that people can get from eating non-food items. There is a reason that they are not meant to be food.
Some doctors describe pica as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. The people that have it know that they shouldn’t be ingesting these items and yet they feel that they have to or there is a craving for it. Pregnant women are especially afflicted by this disorder. If you find yourself indulging in a bowl of nuts and bolts or chewing on sponges constantly, it may be time to go see your doctor before you become seriously ill or worse.