The Bizarre Disorder That Drives People To Eat Metal, Glass, And Rubber

A lot to swallow.

We generally consider something to be food if our bodies are capable of breaking it down and extracting nutrients from it. 

But some people have the compulsion to eat thing their bodies are incapable of digesting — like dirt, metal, rubber, or glass. 

While some of these people may be driven to eat these things by certain nutritional deficiencies, others have a mental disorder known as pica

Eating these materials can have devastating side effects. Not only can sharp edges cut up internal organs, but they can also be highly toxic. Things like rubber or paint chips were never meant to be eaten and can make you very sick. Because the body can't break these things down, it can also lead to severe blockages that require surgery to clear up.

A cousin of obsessive-compulsive disorder, pica has a wide range of possible causes, which are poorly understood. Pregnant women are known to be among those at risk for developing pica and should tell their doctor if they are experiencing these urges, as it poses a health risk both to themselves and the unborn baby .

The latest video from AsapSCIENCE explains how digestion works and what really happens when those suffering from pica eat things that aren't meant to be eaten.

Cover image: Shutterstock