Tag Archives: disorder

What is Pica?

Pica is an eating disorder characterized by the tenacious need or desire to ingest non-food, non-nutritious items that lasts longer than a few weeks. Pica can be serious and even life threatening (depending on the substance that is ingested).

How Common is Pica?

It is difficult to tell how prevalent the disorder is among the general population, as it has been studied and researched mostly among institutionalized populations. Pica cravings are sometimes seen in pregnant women and appear to be fairly common among very young children, but they often grow out of pica tendencies. Pica has also been linked with other conditions such as epilepsy, autism as well as cognitive impairment.

What Types of Things Do People With Pica Crave?

Those with pica may crave and consume nearly anything, including:

  • Ice
  • Dirt
  • Clay
  • Chalk
  • Wax
  • Dish detergent or cleaning solution
  • Burnt matches
  • Cardboard
  • Paint chips or liquid paint
  • Hair
  • Excrement
  • Blood
  • Glass
  • Ashes
  • Wood

What Are The Potential Complications of Pica?

Ingesting certain toxic or harmful substances can have serious or even deadly consequences such as: tooth problems, constipation or diarrhea, bowel obstructions or perforations, intestinal hemorrhages, poisoning (most commonly lead poisoning), infections or parasite infestations.

Pregnancy Pica

We all know pregnancy can sometimes bring about some strange cravings such as pickles or mustard on everything, but sometimes pregnancy may cause pica tendencies, often for earthy-type substances like soil. It isn’t known exactly why pregnancy may bring about cravings for non-nutritional items, in some cases a deficiency may be to blame. Pregnant women often crave ice, which is called pagophagia which has been linked to underlying anemia in rare cases.

Pica in Children

It is common for babies to put objects in their mouth while they are trying to figure the world out, but when a child becomes old enough to know the difference but still eats dirt or non-food items, pica may be the cause. Pica in children appears to be most common among toddlers but can occur at any age. Children often outgrow the tendency, but it may resurface late in like.

Potential Reasons Behind Pica

The exact causes of pica aren’t fully understood or identified but different cases may be influenced by different factors such as:

  • Underlying mental health disorders such as OCD, schizophrenia or generalized anxiety disorder
  • Underlying physical health conditions such as epilepsy, anemia or
  • Cultural, religious or learned behavior – In some cultures eating clay or earth-type substances (geophagia) is accepted and learned.
  • Some pica sufferers use it as a means to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Some people with pica insist they simply enjoy the taste of their chosen non-food item

Because pica can be life threatening in some cases, if you yourself have the disorder or you suspect your child may have pica, it is important to seek evaluation from a doctor who will start the diagnostic process and get you or your child the suitable help to overcome the disorder. Thanks for visiting DocChat!


Epilepsy Awareness

Epilepsy is a complex and prevalent neurological disorder marked by abnormal brain activity, recurrent seizures and other sensory disturbances. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Epilepsy is a shockingly common condition, striking approximately 1 in every 100 Americans with nearly 150,000 new diagnoses each year.
  • Anyone can develop epilepsy. The disorder can just as easily develop in elderly people as it can in children (or anywhere in between).
  • Seizures can begin after another type of medical trauma such as a stroke.
  • DO: roll a seizure victim on their side gently, try to support their head and make them comfortable, as well as monitor your vitals.
  • DON’T: Despite common misconception, never try to put something in the mouth of a seizure victim as it may make them choke or hurt their jaw or teeth.
  • Contrary to commonly held belief, it is actually impossible to swallow your tongue during a seizure.
  • People with epilepsy can hold down most steady jobs (except some that may be a safety hazard in the case of a seizure on the job, such as construction).
  • Epilepsy can’t be cured but it can be successfully treated in many cases.
  • Unfortunately, a fair number of people with the disorder do not respond to treatment and live with uncontrolled epilepsy. However, it is entirely possible with rapid medical advancements that there may be better treatment in the near future.
  • It is possible to die from an epilepsy complication called sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).
  • Sadly, up to 42,000 people die from SUDEP each year in the United States.
  • Symptoms of epileptic seizures include: trans-like staring, abrupt jerking of the limbs, temporary loss of consciousness or awareness, repetitive movements, dizziness or light sensitivity, just to name a few.
  • The two main types of seizures are focal and generalized. Each have various subtypes.
  • The most commonly known type of seizure is a grand mal (tonic-clonic) generalized seizure.
  • If a person is having their first seizure, a seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes or has another seizure following the first, has an additional medical condition, or appears to have been injured during the seizure call 9-1-1 immediately.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope we’ve answered some of your questions about epilepsy. We hope you’ll be back again soon!


Insomnia – How To Get More Sleep

Sleeping couple

If you, or someone close to you has chronic sleeping problems, you certainly know the toll an absence of slumber can have on staying healthy, happy, and sometimes merely functioning. We need sleep to fuel our bodies. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institution (NHLBI) says, “During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health.” Let’s take a look at what constitutes insomnia, as well as some techniques to help catch some zzz’s!

Mind Over Mattress

Chronic insomnia, is classified as a sleep problem under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 (DSM-V) as a mental health condition. It often springs from an over-active mind, or a surplus of anxiety. It can also be caused by certain medications or physical distress, such as illness or chronic pain. Many people think that 6 hours of sleep every night is enough, but according to The National Sleep Foundation most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep to function efficiently.

Being Sleepy Kills

Now, this is a bench mark. Some people need more, perhaps 10 hours to be their best selves, and some are perfectly used to just 5 or 6. However, getting a minimal amount of sleep will slowly chip away at your wellbeing over time. Not only will you be sluggish and zombie-esque, but Sleep.org states that chronic sleep deprivation is responsible for 100,000 traffic accidents, 76,000 injuries, and 1,500 deaths a year! These stats should wake us all up to just how important getting adequate sleep can be.

Tired and Tubby

Even though insomnia has mental health roots, it also affects, or can be affected by the physical. The NHLBI states that chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to such significant health issues as heart problems, kidney disease, blood pressure, stroke, and obesity. “Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down.” The NHLIB also asserts that sleep deprivation affects how your body metabolizes insulin, which can eventually contribute to diabetes as well.

A Coy Midnight Caller

When Sir Slumber is being aloof, what can you do to beckon him back for a visit? Aside from sleeping pills, there have been all kinds of things discovered and developed over the years to help insomnia. Some of which include relaxation and meditative techniques, natural oils, sleepy-time teas, specialized sound effects or visuals, and melatonin, among many others. Experts also say that keeping your room cool during the night, while keeping your socks on during the night can help induce a long, comfy sleep.

Pop a Melatonin

My partner, Mark has been an insomniac since he was very young. He has tried every kind of sleeping pill on the market to no avail, but has recently had significant success with a nightly dose of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone excreted by the body’s pineal gland which facilitates sleep, and the pill Melatonin is a synthetic replication of said hormone. Its effectiveness is debated in the medical community, but it does seem to provide many with much needed night-time peace.

A Sleepy Routine

Mark also finds keeping on a bedtime routine beneficial. The experts at Helpguide, a non-profit mental health wellness organization, advise “Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends.” Mark also finds that calming mind activities help invite sleep, such as coming up with a band name for each letter or the alphabet, or saying the alphabet backwards and frontwards in his mind until he falls asleep midway through.

Sunny and Sleepy

According to Helpguide, some other techniques that have been proven to help coax sleep include: avoiding caffeine in the evening or heavy eating before bed, getting regular exercise, and unplugging a couple hours before bedtime. Possibly chief among these tactics is exposing yourself to enough sunlight daily to help the body’s sleep-wake cycle. According to Dr. Mercola, Osteopathic Physician and best-selling wellness author, “One of the key foundational components of sleeping well is maintaining a natural rhythm of exposure to sunlight during the day and darkness at night.”  Having a warm bath infused with lavender right before bed is another must-try technique for insomniacs.

We hope the information above helps you rest better! Thanks for stopping by DocChat – we always love to have you.