Pica Eating Disorder: The Habit Of Eating Non-Food Items

Pica eating disorder is one type of eating disorder in the form of desire and appetite for objects or substances that are not food or have no nutritional value. This eating disorder can happen to anyone, but is most commonly experienced by children, pregnant women, and people with intellectual disabilities.

People with pica eating disorder may eat harmless objects, such as ice cubes; or hazardous to health, such as dry paint chips or metal scraps. This eating pattern can be considered a pica eating disorder if it has been going on for at least 1 month.

In children, the diagnosis of pica eating disorder is only applied to children over 2 years of age. The reason is, the habit of biting or putting foreign objects into the mouth in children under the age of 2 years is indeed a part of child development, so it is not considered a pica eating disorder.

Symptoms of Pica Eating Disorder

People with pica eating disorder usually like to eat things like:

  • Ice
  • Hair
  • Dust
  • Sand
  • Glue
  • Chalk
  • Clay
  • paint flakes
  • Bath soap
  • cigarette ash
  • Cigarette butt
  • Feces/feces

In addition to unusual food choices, people with pica eating disorder may also experience:

  • Digestive problems, such as abdominal pain, nausea, and bloating
  • Behavioral problems
  • Other health problems, such as being very thin and tired due to anemia and malnutrition

Causes of Pica Makan Eating Disorder

Until now, the cause of pica eating disorder is not known with certainty. However, there are several things that may increase a person's risk of suffering from this condition, including:

  • Children's age
  • Pregnancy
  • Developmental disorders, such as autism or mental retardation
  • Mental health problems, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or schizophrenia
  • Deficiencies of certain nutrients, such as in iron deficiency and -deficiency anemia zinc
  • Economy problem
  • Abuse

In children and pregnant women, pica eating disorder is generally only temporary and can resolve without needing treatment. However, pica eating disorder can also last for a long time. This is usually experienced by patients with mental health problems.

Pica Makan Eating Disorder Diagnosis

Before treating pica eating disorder, your doctor will ask you about your eating habits and the problems they cause, and perform a physical exam. If needed, the doctor may order blood tests to see if the patient has iron or low levels of iron zinc The low one.

Most people with pica eating disorder will come to the doctor when they experience problems due to their diet, not the diet itself. Therefore, people with pica eating disorder are expected to be honest and open with their doctor about non-food items that are often consumed.

The role of a companion or parent is also very important in this regard, especially if people with pica eating disorder are children and adults with mental retardation or poor communication skills.

Pica Eating Disorder Treatment

Treatment for pica eating disorder usually starts with treating the symptoms you feel as a result of consuming non-food items or substances. For example, if a patient has lead poisoning from eating paint flakes, the doctor will prescribe medication to excrete lead through the urine.

Meanwhile, if the pica eating disorder is caused by a nutritional imbalance, the doctor may prescribe vitamin or mineral supplements, for example, iron and vitamin C supplements to treat iron deficiency.

In addition, the doctor will also evaluate the patient from a psychological perspective to determine whether he or she has certain mental health conditions, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or autism.

If there are mental health problems, the doctor will prescribe appropriate medication or therapy or refer the patient to a psychiatrist. By doing so, it is hoped that the behavior of consuming objects or substances that are not food can be reduced and lost.

In the long term, pica eating disorders can have a negative impact on health, ranging from parasitic infections, intestinal blockage, and poisoning. Therefore, if you experience pica eating disorder or know someone who has it, don't delay in consulting a psychologist or psychiatrist.