Treatment of Pica

Your name: 
Kate
UCL course: 
Architectural Studies
Entry: 

How might someone with Pica be treated?

Firstly, they would undergo a medical evaluation for with they are craving foreign substances. Blood and urine samples can show if there is a mineral deficiency that they are trying to compensate for. Also a chest x-ray is needed to see if anything foreign has entered their lungs.

So once it is determined why they may have pica (i.e. anemia and zinc deficiency) they may be treated with supplements. Pica is often due to behavioural habits rather than lack of minerals or nutrients, so the main treatment would likely be therapy to try and talk through and address the desire for eating inedible substances. It has tendencies related to OCD so medications for treating that disorder may be prescribed.

Here is information on medications that are being studied and tested:

"Few studies have been performed using pharmacologic treatments for pica; however, the hypothesis that diminished dopaminergic neurotransmission is associated with pica suggests that drugs that enhance dopaminergic functioning may provide treatment alternatives in individuals with pica that is refractory to behavioral intervention. In addition, a single case report found that an antipsychotic with prominent dopaminergic, serotoninergic, adrenergic, and cholinergic effects described reduced pica behaviors. Medications used in the management of severe behavioral problems may have a positive impact on comorbid pica."

Prevention can happen on a family level. If you have previous pica cases in your family you can try and create an environment that deters the habit. It has been suggested for parents to try and spend more time with their children to distract from and stop tendencies occuring.