Pica: Adele Edwards Eats Sofa Cushions Like Candy


She has tried therapy, including hypnosis, to stop the compulsion. She was sent to the hospital three years ago with a blockage in her lower intestine and as doctors readied her for surgery, laxatives did the trick and she passed a ball of foam as big as a grapefruit, according to the article.

Her doctor, gastroenterologist Dr. Christopher Olenec of the Digestive Health Center in Sarasota, Florida, did not answer ABC's questions, instead referring them to TLC.

According to the newspaper, Edwards was prescribed iron supplements for a deficiency, and she hopes it will stop the compulsive behavior.

When pica is not caused by an iron deficiency, it is often "a disturbance in the thought process," according to Dr. G. Richard Locke, a gastrologist and motility expert from the Mayo Clinic.

Problems could arise if the foam is not "ground up" enough in the stomach to pass through the stomach outlet -- only about one-half inch in diameter.

A non-food material could become microscopic and toxins might be absorbed into her system, but most materials small enough to work their way from top to bottom eventually pass.

"It has to get through the intestine," said Locke, who has treated patients who have swallowed coins and hairballs, among other things.

The digestive tract is "one long tube from the mouth to the bottom," he said. "It's in our body, but not actually in our body. It protects us."

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