Woman with rare eating disorder swallows 3ft-long iPhone charger

Eating disorder sufferer details issues with mental health services

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A polish woman suffering from a rare eating disorder called pica had to seek emergency treatment after attempting to eat a 3ft-long iPhone charger cable. Pica is an eating disorder that involves eating items that are not typically thought of as food and that do not contain significant nutritional value, such as hair, dirt, and paint chips. The woman was rushed to surgery after the cable became lodged in her oesophagus, the MailOnline reports. 

With the cable getting lodged in the woman’s gullet, she started to suffocate.

After calling the emergency services, the woman successfully underwent a procedure to remove the cable.

Posting an x-ray image on Facebook, a group called ‘Ready to Rescue’ which teaches First Aid in the Polish city of Wroclaw said: “The case presents a woman who swallowed a meter long charging (power) cable for an iPhone.

“The woman called the Rescue Team only after she began experiencing shortness of breath due to the placement of the upper part of the tube in her esophagus.”

Following the operation, the woman was released from ER.

Originally posted on the social media page of a group calling itself Savage Paramedics, which describes itself as being “a community for health professionals to come together for humor, fun, and education”, the photo first surfaced on Saturday.

It was accompanied by another photo showing a close up of the phone charger lodged inside the woman’s throat.

The group then posted: “The cord was successfully removed in the hospital and she made a full recovery.”

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“But she did not tell anyone her reason for initially swallowing the charging cable.

“Any guesses?”

The post has generated much buzz on social media, with over 12k likes and a flurry of crude comments.

One user joked: “She wanted to feel more connected.”

Another said: “Maybe she needed a recharge.”

And yet another quipped: “Giving i-phone users a bad rep. This is android behaviour.”

Others approached the women’s eating disorder with sensitivity, highlighting the seriousness of the disorder.

Someone called standingmaggie posted: “PICA behavior. I used to work in a mental institution, and we had a lot of these. Bra hooks, nails, hinges, brass hose ends, staples, paper clips, nail clippers, cupboard handles, utensils. You name it.”

According to the nonprofit health body National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), pica often occurs with other mental health disorders associated with impaired functioning (e.g. intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia).

“Iron-deficiency anemia and malnutrition are two of the most common causes of pica, followed by pregnancy,” explains NEDA.

The health body continues: “In these individuals, pica is a sign that the body is trying to correct a significant nutrient deficiency.

“Treating this deficiency with medication or vitamins often resolves the problems.”

Signs include:

  • The persistent eating, over a period of at least one month, of substances that are not food and do not provide nutritional value
  • The ingestion of the substance(s) is not a part of culturally supported or socially normative practice (e.g., some cultures promote eating clay as part of a medicinal practice)
  • Typical substances ingested tend to vary with age and availability. They may include paper, soap, cloth, hair, string, wool, soil, chalk, talcum powder, paint, gum, metal, pebbles, charcoal, ash, clay, starch, or ice
  • The eating of these substances must be developmentally inappropriate. In children under two years of age, mouthing objects – or putting small objects in their mouth – is a normal part of development, allowing the child to explore their senses. Mouthing may sometimes result in ingestion. In order to exclude developmentally normal mouthing, children under two years of age should not be diagnosed with pica
  • Generally, those with pica are not averse to ingesting food.

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