Pica syndrome is a medical condition with a tendency to eat or ingest strange and unthinkable substances. While the causes of this rare syndrome are not fully known, mineral deficiencies, psychiatric disorders, and developmental factors may be effective. You can read more about the symptoms, causes and treatment options of Pica syndrome in our article. Let’s look at this interesting topic together!
What is Pica Syndrome?
Pica syndrome is a rare medical condition characterized by a person’s tendency to eat or swallow strange and unthinkable substances. This often manifests as consuming substances that are not nutritionally valuable, such as minerals or soil. The word pica is derived from the word “pica”, which gives the name of this syndrome, which means “crow” in Latin. This nomenclature refers to the crows’ tendency to eat different substances.
Pica syndrome usually occurs during childhood or pregnancy. It is more common, especially in people with mineral deficiencies, iron deficiency anemia, or other nutrient deficiencies. However, Pica syndrome can also occur in adults with mental or developmental disabilities.
The exact cause of Pica syndrome is not clearly known. However, experts believe that this syndrome is associated with a combination of several factors. These may include nutrient deficiencies, psychiatric disorders (e.g., obsessive-compulsive disorder), autism spectrum disorder, or mental retardation. In addition, it is thought that social and environmental factors may have an effect on Pica syndrome.
Pica syndrome poses several risks in terms of physical health. Ingestion or consumption of substances can lead to digestive tract blockages, poisoning or other serious complications. It can also cause social and psychological problems. The person may not be understood or excluded by those around them, which can lead to emotional problems such as anxiety, shyness, or low self-esteem.
Who Gets Pica Syndrome?
Pica syndrome is a medical condition that usually occurs during childhood and pregnancy. However, this syndrome can be seen at any age and gender. Individuals with Pica syndrome have a tendency to eat or ingest strange and unthinkable substances. So, who gets Pica syndrome? Here are some risk factors and affected groups:
Pica syndrome is more common in children. This is especially common in children aged 2 to 3 years. Children may have a tendency to eat materials such as felt, soil, sand, paint chips, paper or cloth.
Pica syndrome can also occur during pregnancy. It is more common in women who experience a deficiency in minerals or other nutrients, especially during pregnancy. Hormonal changes and increased mineral needs during pregnancy can also increase the risk of Pica syndrome.
Persons with mental or developmental disabilities
Pica syndrome may be more common in individuals with mental retardation, autism spectrum disorder, or other developmental disabilities. This can occur as one of the symptoms of related conditions.
Persons with psychiatric disorders
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, or other psychiatric disorders may be at increased risk for Pica syndrome. This can occur as a symptom or complication of psychiatric problems.
Individuals with a mineral deficiency
Mineral deficiencies, such as iron deficiency anemia, can increase the risk of Pica syndrome. The body may have a tendency to consume foreign substances to make up for deficiencies.
What Causes Pica Syndrome?
Pica syndrome is a rare medical condition with a tendency to eat or ingest strange and unthinkable substances. But the exact causes of Pica syndrome are still not fully understood. Some possible causes that contribute to the onset of this syndrome include:
Pica syndrome is often associated with mineral or nutrient deficiencies. In particular, a lack of iron, zinc, calcium or other minerals can increase the tendency to consume foreign substances. The body can push the person to eat foreign substances to make up for these deficiencies.
Pica syndrome may be associated with psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. In this case, obsessions (obsessions) or compulsions (compulsions) can lead the person to consume foreign substances. Pica syndrome may also be associated with anxiety disorders or other psychiatric disorders.
mental or developmental disabilities
Pica syndrome may be associated with mental retardation, autism spectrum disorder, or other developmental disabilities. This can occur as one of the symptoms of related conditions. For example, autistic individuals may have a tendency to eat strange substances because of their interest in the objects around them.
Social or environmental factors
Pica syndrome may also be associated with social or environmental factors. Especially in children, this syndrome can occur when people around them imitate the behavior of consuming foreign substances. In addition, social interactions such as seeking attention or reducing anxiety can also encourage these behaviors.
How is Pica syndrome treated?
Pica syndrome is a rare medical condition with a tendency to eat or ingest strange and unthinkable substances. When Pica syndrome is diagnosed, the focus is on managing the symptoms with the right treatment methods and support. Here are some approaches used in the treatment of Pica syndrome:
Correction of mineral or nutrient deficiencies
Pica syndrome is often associated with mineral deficiencies. Therefore, deficiencies are identified through a medical evaluation and supplements or dietary modifications may be recommended. Correcting mineral deficiencies can reduce the temptation to consume foreign substances.
Psychotherapy plays an important role in the treatment of Pica syndrome. Therapy methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or behavioral therapy are used. These therapies aim to understand the behavior of consuming foreign substances, identify triggers, and encourage healthier behaviors. Strategies can also be taught to deal with anxiety, obsessive thoughts or stress.
In some cases, medication may be recommended to manage the symptoms of Pica syndrome. Antidepressants or anxiolytics may be used, especially in cases where obsessive-compulsive disorder is associated. However, drug therapy may not be required in all cases and the treatment plan should be determined on an individual basis.
Family support and education
Family support and education are important in the treatment of Pica syndrome. It is important that the family understands the symptoms, supports the person, and actively participates in the treatment plan. It may also be helpful to educate the family about the causes of the symptoms and how to manage them.
Support groups and counseling
Support groups and counseling services can be helpful in coping with Pica syndrome. In these groups, people with similar experiences can come together and share experiences. At the same time, working individually with a counselor can provide emotional support and help the person develop coping skills.
What does pica syndrome mean?
The persistent habit of eating non-food items that lasts for more than a month is called pica syndrome. These substances can generally be hair, paint, ash, clay, soil and paper. This syndrome, known among people as the habit of eating more soil, is most common in children.
What happens if pica is not treated?
If pica syndrome is not treated, the probability of the appearance of bad smell in the mouth, tooth decay, intestinal rupture due to the inability to digest the consumed substances and bezoars is very high.
What causes pica syndrome?
The symptom of pica syndrome is the appearance of blood in the stool. Because your child cannot digest properly because of foreign objects he or she has eaten, blood may be seen in the stool. Constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, tooth decay, bad breath are among the symptoms of pica syndrome.
Is pica syndrome dangerous?
Serious neurological disorders, intestinal parasites, and mercury poisoning are common in people with pica syndrome. It is an extremely dangerous situation. Especially in children, treatment should be started immediately.
How do I get rid of pica syndrome?
To get rid of pica syndrome, it is necessary to eat healthy. After detecting the missing vitamins and minerals by a doctor, the effect of the syndrome gradually disappears when they are supplemented with the help of nutrients. When iron deficiency is diagnosed, molasses eggs and leafy green vegetables can be eaten.
Which doctor should I see for pica disease?
For pica, you should consult an educator. It is difficult to overcome this disease, which develops for psychological reasons, without support. To beat the disease, you must first finish it in your head.