What is PICA? Why do some people have this habit of eating non-edible things?

We often see some people (mostly women) having things that are non-edible like soil, chalk, cement, etc. They enjoy or feel satisfied after having such non-edible things.


The full form of PICA is Posterior Inferior Cerebellar Artery. Pica is a disorder in which people eat things that aren't food. The most typical objects eaten are dirt, clay, and flaking paint. Glue, hair, cigarette ashes, and feces are some less common materials.

Children are particularly susceptible to the illness, which affects 10% to 30% of young children aged 1 to 6. It can also happen to kids and people who have intellectual and developmental problems. Pregnant women can have unusual cravings for non-food items.

PICA is frequently related to women who consume non-edible substances such as chalk, cement, mud, paper, or metals.

This might lead to an iron or zinc shortage in the body.

Symptoms Of PICA

  • indigestion

  • stool with blood in it (which may be a sign of an ulcer that developed from eating non-food items)

  • intestine issues (such as constipation or diarrhea)

  • The toxic, poisonous, and bacterial contents of the nonfood products are the cause of these illnesses.

Consumption of non-food products regularly can result in the following symptoms:

  • Toxicity of lead (from eating paint chips that contain lead)

  • An obstruction or a rip in the intestine (from eating hard objects, such as rocks)

  • Dental injuries

  • Viruses (from organisms and parasites that get inside the body and cause disease)

Diagnosis Of PICA

Pica doesn't have a test. This issue will be diagnosed by your doctor based on your medical history as well as several other variables.

You should tell your doctor everything you've eaten that wasn't food. This will assist them in making a precise diagnosis.

If you don't tell them what you've been eating, they may struggle to figure out if you have pica. Children and those with intellectual disabilities are in the same boat.

If you have low zinc or iron levels, your doctor may do a blood test. This can assist your doctor in determining whether or not you have an underlying nutrient shortfall, such as iron deficiency. Pica can occasionally be linked to nutritional deficits.


Even though the specific etiology of pica is unknown, researchers do know that certain factors put a person at a higher risk of having the disorder.

Among them are:

Autism spectrum disorder and other developmental problems and intellectual disabilities

Mental illnesses like schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder

Those who are malnourished or hungry have low levels of minerals like iron and zinc, which can stimulate specific sorts of cravings.

Stress is common in children who have been mistreated or neglected, as well as those

who live in extreme poverty.

People who are pregnant seek dirt at rare times during pregnancy, which could be due to an iron deficiency.

Consequences of eating non-edible things

Constipation: Constipation is a common adverse effect of eating a lot of soil. Intestinal blockage or perforation are also possible side effects, albeit these are less prevalent.

Parasites, heavy metal, metal:

You can get parasites, germs, and dangerous heavy metals from eating dirt. High blood potassium levels can be caused by dirt high in potassium, increasing the risk of cardiac arrhythmia or cardiac arrest.

Pregnancy complications:

Most women during pregnancy, crave non-edible food items like soil, chalk, or anything else.

Whatever the origin of your pregnancy's dirt cravings, consuming dirt might endanger your health as well as the health of your unborn child.

Even if the soil you eat is toxin-free and has been baked or cooked appropriately, it can still attach to the nutrients you acquire from other sources in your stomach, preventing your body from properly absorbing them. This could jeopardize your health.

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