Choma Unpacks All You Need to Know About PICA

Have you or someone you know ever experienced unusual cravings to consume non-food items such as clay, soil, paper, or ice? There’s a term for that Choma, it’s called PICA.  These items are often dangerous or don’t have any nutritional value. Here’s more,

Causes of PICA

There’s many reasons why you or someone you know may have PICA. Having an iron or zinc deficiency is just one of the causes, which your healthcare provider will be able to confirm. It could also be a sign that your body is trying to replenish low nutrient levels.

Lastly, PICA can result from extreme stress and mental health issues which your healthcare provider will also be able to diagnose. In some cases, pregnant women may be prone to PICA.

Others enjoy the textures and flavours of non-food items which leads them into consumption and falling into the habit.

Children, due to their curious nature, also tend to like tasting non-food items, which usually goes away on its own as they grow older.

Either way, it’s important to check in with your health care provider if you’re experiencing PICA.

Common signs and symptoms of PICA 

If you have Pica, you may eat things such as: 

  • Ice
  • Soap
  • Buttons
  • Clay
  • Hair
  • Dirt
  • Sand
  • Ash
  • Chalk
  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Paper

Is PICA dangerous or life threatening?

PICA can lead to other health conditions and complications, which might be life threatening for you as a result of the items you consume. Examples are: 

PICA Diagnosis

Currently, there is no test for PICA. It’s important to be honest with your healthcare provider about what you have been eating and the frequency of that consumption so that he/she can accurately assess and make a diagnosis.

How can PICA be treated?

Most of the time, PICA is caused by a deficiency, and your healthcare provider will prescribe vitamins or supplements.

PICA is an unusual disorder that results in cravings that may seem odd to many. If you find yourself eating non-food items that have no nutritional value or that are harmful and you’re not ready to see a healthcare provider yet, you can chat to me.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).