What is Pica

While the media discusses some of the more commonly occurring eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, few realize that there are actually many other types of eating disorders that one may fall victim to. In this article, well discuss a lesser-known eating disorder that is known as pica, helping you to learn more about the disease so that you can be better informed about its possible symptoms and treatments.

Whereas many of the eating disorders that we commonly discuss involve a low-self image and a desire to become thinner, pica is a drastic departure from this standard. Pica is definitely an outlier in the world of eating disorders, and it is described as a disorder in which one constantly feels the need to eat things that are not commonly considered food.

The Magpie Disease

The name ‘pica actually was imparted to the disorder since pica is Latin for magpie, which is a type of bird that often has an odd diet. While the cravings may occur a time or two in some individuals, when the symptoms persist for more than a month, a case of pica may be accurately diagnosed. Things that people with pica often desire to eat may include dirt, chips of paint, starch for use in laundry, and the feces of animals, soap, or glue.

These are just a few of the things that one may desire to consume, and there are many other things to consider. While some of the things that those with pica desire to eat can be consumed with little to no negative effects on the body, others can have terribly bad effects.


There are several different reasons for which one may develop a case of pica, and quite often, it is due to the deficiency of certain minerals such as iron or zinc. Poor diets may also result in a desire to eat non-food items, and malnutrition can sometimes be pointed to as the cause. Mental retardation can also be responsible, as well as certain cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Women who are pregnant may also experience a case of pica, as cravings during pregnancy can be intense and odd.


When it comes to treating a case of pica, the treatment often depends upon the individual. In many cases, the disorder can be cleared up by addressing the mineral deficiency that may be causing the urges. Psycho-therapy may also be employed in order to help a person to cure themselves of their pica urges. Its important to address the disorder if it is present, as it can cause malnutrition and lead poisoning.

Infections may also occur, and if one is eating certain items, intestinal blockage may occur which can really complicate matters. If you know someone who you suspect is undergoing a problem with the eating disorder known as pica, you may want to ask them to visit a doctor in order to address the problem and determine whether or not a deficiency could be causing it to occur. While its an odd eating disorder, its no laughing matter, and its something that needs to be addressed in order to be treated.