Pica is the persistent eating of substances such as dirt or paint that have no nutritional value. Mineral deficiencies are occasionally associated with pica; however, biological abnormalities are rarely found in individuals with pica.
-People practicing forms of pica, such as geophagy, pagophagy and amylophagy, are more likely anemic, have low hemoglobin concentration in their blood, lower levels of red blood cells (hematocrit), or have lower plasma zinc levels.
– Specifically, practicing geophagy is more likely to associated with anemia or low hemoglobin.
– Practicing pagophagy and amylophagy were more highly associated with anemia.
– Additionally, being a child or pregnant woman practicing pica was associated with higher
chance of being anemic or having low hemoglobin relative to the general population.
-More recently, cases of pica have been tied to the obsessive–compulsive spectrum, and there is a move to consider OCD in the cause of pica.
-However, pica is currently recognized as a mental disorder by the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Sensory, physiological, cultural and psychosocial perspectives have also been used by some to explain the causation of pica.
It has been proposed that mental-health conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia, can sometimes cause pica.
-Mineral deficiency specially iron deficiency
-Traumatic events/ stress:Maternal deprivationParental separation/ neglect
-Disorganized family structure
-Poor parent-child interaction
-Low socio-economic status
Child with habit of eating substances like clay, dirt, stones, pebbles, hair, faeces, lead, plastic, pencil, erasers, fingernails, paper, paint chips, coal, chalk, wood, plaster, light bulbs, needles, string, cigarette, wire and burnt matches etc.
A case with history of PICA may present with symptoms of:Constipation
Chronic or acute, diffuse or focused abdominal pain
Nausea/ vomitingLoss of appetite
On examination, findings like :Abdominal distension
PallorIron deficiency anaemia which could be the cause of PICA
Clinical presentation of PICA is variable and is associated with the specific nature of the resulting medical conditions and the indigested substances.Parasitic infestations are usually associated with PICA. Ascariasis is commonly seen in children with Pica.
Amylophagia – consumption of starch
Coprophagy – consumption of faeces
Geophagy – consumption of soil, clay or chalk
Hyalophagia – consumption of glass
Pagophagia – pathological consumption of ice
Trichophagia – consumption of hair or wool
Urophagia – consumption of urine
Xylophagia – consumption of wood.
There are many potential complications of pica, such as:
Certain items, such as paint chips, may contain lead or other toxic substances and eating them can lead to poisoning, increasing the child’s risk of complications including learning disabilities and brain damage. This is the most concerning and potentially lethal side effect of pica
Eating non-food objects can interfere with eating healthy food, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.Eating objects that cannot be digested, such as stones, can cause constipation or blockages in the digestive tract, including the intestines and bowels. Also, hard or sharp objects (such as paperclips or metal scraps) can cause tears in the lining of the esophagus or intestines.Bacteria or parasites from dirt or other objects can cause serious infections. Some infections can damage the kidneys or liver.Co-existing developmental disabilities can make treatment difficult.
Pica Homeopathic Treatment
The homeopathic treatment for PICA is holistic and comprehensive.Homeopathy does not target the symptomsof Pica. The target of homeopathic treatment for Pica is the underlying cause that leads to development of Pica in a given individual.Once the underlying cause is removed with homeopathy or the deficiency is eliminated,the cravings disappear soon.Homeopathic treatment for Pica improves the body’s natural defense mechanisms or ‘immunity’ and prevents the occurrence of Pica. Thus, homeopathic treatment plays an excellent role as a ‘preventive’ and curative for Pica.Importantly, homeopathic treatment for Pica significantly diminishes the risk of development of nasty complications of Pica.