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Fatigue and AnemiaFatigue and Anemia
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Kidney - Anemia
Jul 21, 2002

Dr. Frascino; My husband is a kidney transplant recepient. (30 years ago) He is currently waiting for a new kidney..but a while ago I noticed that the CD cases were all broken up. I asked what had happened? He was embarassed, but he told me that he "eats" them! I was a bit surprised, then he told me that there is something missing in his blood or that he was anemic or something like that. I didn't continue to ask, because I know he was very embarassed. Could you explain this to me? Is there anything that can be given to help his cravings for plastic? Thanks so much.

Response from Dr. Frascino


There is a medical condition called PICA, which is a perverted appetite or hunger for substances not suitable as food. It's seen primarily in children aged 1-3 and may be related to emotional stress or nutritional deficiencies. I've never heard of this condition persisting into adulthood. Selectively gnawing on plastic CD cases is particularly bizarre! Plastic does not provide any essential nutrients, at least not to humans. (Maybe androids or Barbi and Ken dolls?) In any case, the plastics are not replacing anything that's "missing" in his blood.

Is your husband on dialysis? Kidney-related problems and dialysis can cause anemia. If indeed he is anemic (low hemoglobin or number of red blood cells), then Procrit should help. It's a medication that stimulates the bone marrow to make additional new red blood cells. By correcting the anemia, symptoms like fatigue, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, headache, etc. should improve. However, it most likely will not alter his appetite. So I'd suggest you have your husband see a psychiatrist to evaluate this very abnormal behavior of ingesting plastic CD cases. Alternatively, you'll have to switch back to cassette tapes, although those come in plastic cases as well. OK, I guess it's all the way back to vinyl LPs, unless of course he likes to munch on those, too. Perhaps until he gets into see a psychiatrist, you better stick to the radio for your tunes!

OK, good luck. And you better put the new roll of plastic lunch baggies on a top shelf out of reach for the time being.

Dr. Bob

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