What is Dirt Eating?
Pica is a disorder in which non-nutritious substances (for instance, dirt) are largely included as part of the patient’s diet. Pica is Latin for magpie. But just as a magpie is claimed to go for all manner of strange objects, dirt eating (pica) is similar. By definition it’s an abnormal craving to eat substances not fit for food, such as wood, lead pencils or chalk. It’s claimed to be more common among children and pregnant women.
The range of items eaten is truly remarkable, and in recent years many articles have appeared in the world medical journals attesting to the variety of items devoured.
One person munched up 9,000 g of ice a day. She wore several sets of teeth out munching the hard stuff. Another woman ate at least two pages of the evening newspaper regularly. (She finally had a bowel obstruction that nearly killed her. Emergency surgery saved her.) Some women have a craving for food and will cat anything within their grasp. Putty has been popular with some. Clay and chalk are also commonly eaten.
Dirt Eating Treatment
Fortunately the remedy is often surprisingly simple. A full examination by the doctor is necessary. Occasionally there may be an underlying condition, and occasionally there is a psychiatric hysterical element. But many will respond well to an adjustment of the iron intake each day. It seems many are anemic, and when this is cured, the symptoms likewise vanish. Remarkable, isn’t it? A simple remedy for a really strange disorder.