PICA Syndrome: A Psychological Syndrome With Serious Consequences

PICA Syndrome: A Psychological Syndrome With Serious Consequences

“What the hell is this?”, Mrs George yelled at me banging the table. I shivered. Well, I couldn’t do anything. “They are my patients”, “She is my patient” I told myself continuously trying to control my fuming anger.

“Why is my son weird?”, she shouted again cutting off my thoughts

“Just tell me a good reason he is like that”, she fumed banging her head on the table as tears rolled down her cheeks. Then, I felt the pain. Mrs George got married ten years ago only to be blessed six years later. She was my patient and I couldn’t forget her pain then. Countless surgeries, coming to hospital every time and using millions of pills. Everything was going well after he had her son, Liam, until months ago complaining to me about his son eating anything whether food or not. I told her to continue watching him, after all, every child does that.

“Four years son is old enough”, she roared back on phone.


That day, Liam swallowed stone and was rushed to my hospital. “Don’t die”, “Don’t die”, I said timidly in the ER when doing intubation. He was saved!
“Calm down, Mrs George”, I consoled her reaching out for her hands. She wiped my hands away.
“Don’t touch me!”, she yelled.

I froze.

“What’s wrong with my son? Is there anything he can’t eat? Stone? Book? Cloth? Sand? Hair? Chalk? Metal? What else? Anything, he eats anything at reach even blood!”, she stormed out now crying.
My heart thumped faster in pain. I was feeling her pain, frustration and fear.

“Pica Syndrome”, I said standing up.
“Pi…Pica what?” she asked me timidly.
“Pica Syndrome”, I repeated sitting besides her. I reached out for her hands and squeezed them in mine. “Its fine”.


“What is Pica Syndrome? And why my son?”, she asked blinking concurrently.
“It’s a disorder where you feel compulsive to eat any item whether food or not. It occurs in both children and pregnant women. It lasts long”, I tried explaining calmly to reduce her fear and anxiety.
“Why my son?” she asked sobbing
“Its usually caused by deficiency of a nutrient for mostly pregnant women but…your child….”, I paused looking into her big eyes.
“It might be malnutrition”, I pronounced. She laughed widely in a maniac way. I was shocked or probably surprised.

“Malnutrition? Are you joking? My son has more than enough to eat!”, she yelled again.
“Really? Are you sure? Are you really feeding him? By yourself? Does he eats in your eyes?”, I thrown out a gaze deeply into her eyes. For the first time, she shivered.

“Well…I…I…gave his nanny…enough money to feed him”, she answered feebly.

“Your son is not eating, I don’t know whose fault, you or his nanny? He is craving for food, feeling to be full and thereby develop Pica Syndrome which is very dangerous and can lead to many diseases including lead poisoning and death”
I walked to my seat.


“What should we do?” she asked calmly
“ I will do blood test to check if there is any nutrient deficiency and a psychological evaluation to check for OCD or any mental condition. If there is, this condition can lead to inquisitiveness to know how everything tastes like, an urge, temptation and a disorder, Pica Syndrome. Depending on my diagnosis, treatment can be drugs, therapy or both. Mrs George, please, take good care of Liam, you don’t want to lose him, do you?”
“I don’t”, she answered quickly shaking her head.
“Okay!”, I said smiling widely at her. “Liam is fine”
“Thank you doctor”, she appreciated and continued;
“Sorry for being rude earlier”
I smiled

“You weren’t rude, you were …..”

“Doctor, we have an emergency, a ten years old boy with severe burn, bone fracture and abdominal pain”, I heard nurse Lana immediately she rushed in. Without an iota of hesitation, I picked my stethoscope and dashed out.

PICA Syndrome: A Psychological Syndrome With Serious Consequences

Writer: Bolarinwa Amirat Olawumi.
Federal University Oye Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria

Bolarinwa Amirat Olawumi is a student of Federal University Oye Ekiti, Ekiti State, department of Pharmacy. She has a great passion for writing, researching and reading and of course ready to write all that need to be known to the world.
She started writing at a very tender age and has successfully write a lot. She wishes to become a Pharmacist, Poet, Writer and Public Speaker.
She lives in Oyo, Oyo State.

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