Pica Eating Disorder Treatment in Los Angeles, CA
The word pica is taken from the Latin word for "magpie," a species of crow that is renowned for its indiscriminate eating habits. Pica eating disorder is when people crave or eat unusual non-food items. Pica syndrome is most common in children under 3 or people with developmental or intellectual disabilities like autism. Brain injury patients - both adult and child - may present with pica following the injury. Pica disorder also spontaneously emerges in people with epilepsy. It is unknown whether it is a function of the epilepsy, or perhaps brain injury caused by the epilepsy. It may also manifest with mental illness like obsessive-compulsive disorder.
However, pica can exist with no underlying or accompanying mental or physical disorders. In some cases, no cause is determined, or something as simple as an underlying nutritional deficiency is implicated.
Pica also sometimes occurs during pregnancy. Pregnancy is known to bring unusual cravings - like pickles or ice cream - but both mother and fetus can be endangered when cravings for more unusual or even toxic substances or items assert themselves during pregnancy. Pregnancy-related pica symptoms generally resolve when the woman is no longer pregnant.
Pica, if unchecked, can result in serious health problems, not just for pregnant women and unborn children. Illness, and even death, is a real danger for anyone who suffers from the condition, especially when the non-food item consumed is toxic in nature. Eating rotten or moldy food - or worse, feces - can cause serious bacterial infections. Ingesting paint chips can result in lead poisoning. Eating bones, or other sharp or hard objects, can cause puncturing and result in bleeding or infection in the digestive tract - in some cases leading to sepsis and death.
To schedule a consultation with a qualified psychiatric professional in Los Angeles that specializes in pica disorder treatment, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Dr. Jeremy Fischer online.
If not self-reported, the only symptoms of pica are the specific health problems that can emerge from ingesting certain substances or objects. Internal bleeding from a punctured intestine, bacterial infection from consuming feces, or lead poisoning from ingesting paint chips are all examples that might lead to a diagnosis of pica. Commonly reported non-food items associated with a pica eating disorder include:
- Coffee grounds
- Match heads
Pica Syndrome Diagnosis
A pica eating disorder diagnosis is made only when the behavior has lasted longer than one month. Imaging tests or blood tests are often used to check for the presence of infection, anemia, lead poisoning or other toxins in the blood, or objects lodged in the digestive tract. Pica is most often brought to the attention of a healthcare provider when the unusual eating behavior is witnessed by a teacher, care provider, friend or family member. Pica-sufferers are sometimes embarrassed or secretive about the behavior and will not self-report. In the case of young children or persons with diminished mental capacity, there may be a lack of awareness that the behavior is unusual or dangerous.
Pica Disorder Treatment
Treatment for pica syndrome is based on determining whether there is an underlying causal condition driving the eating disorder, and treating that condition. Some causes of pica have no obvious root cause and are resistant to treatment. A complete discussion of pica diagnosis and treatment options can be provided to you by your healthcare provider. A behavioral treatment regimen is often the treatment of choice. However, close medical monitoring, due to the inherent medical danger in ingesting toxic or dangerous objects, is essential. Ideally, there should be a close collaboration between medical and psychological practitioners.
Schedule a consultation with a qualified psychiatric professional in Los Angeles that specializes in pica disorder treatment! Call (424) 365-1800 or contact Dr. Jeremy Fischer online.
Vitality Integrative Medicine
Address4849 Van Nuys Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
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