17. June 2011 16:08
Webster’s defines pica as “ an abnormal desire to eat substances (as chalk or ashes), not normally eaten.” In medical practice, pica is a symptom of iron deficiency. Go figure. The most common pica that I have seen in private practice, is compulsive ice chewing. The more unusual picas I’ve been presented with, are a teacher who ate chalk dust after her students left the classroom, and a woman who would drag her finger along dirty cars, and then eat the dirt.
Since iron deficiency can be a sign of a potentially serious disorder, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, a patient should always alert their physician if they develop a pica.
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