Monday, April 11, 2011

Comfort food: The woman who can't stop eating sofas

Foam in at the mouth: Adele Edwards checks the foam from a sofa cushion at Bob's Bargain Barn in Bradenton, Florida, to see if it is the kind she likes to eatA mother-of-five has been diagnosed with a rare disorder called Pica after seeking medical help for her addiction... to eating sofas.

Adele Edwards, of Bradenton, Florida, has been eating the foam inside couch cushions for 21 years.

She sought help when the cravings started getting out of control.

Miss Edwards, 31, said: 'In the last year I’ve eaten seven sofas.

'I unzip the cushions and snack on the foam inside. And once I start I just can’t stop.

'But now doctors have told me that if I carry on, my addiction will kill me.'

Pica is a disorder found most commonly in toddlers and pregnant women who lack certain nutrients, causing them to crave non-nutritive substances like chalk, coins, batteries and even dirt.

Sometimes it’s caused by stress, and Adele admits her first time happened during a very emotional period in her life, when her parents were on the brink of divorce. ...

Like many addicts, Miss Edwards didn't get hooked overnight.

She started by chewing the cushion foam before spitting it out. But it wasn’t long until she began to swallow each small piece of cushion she put in her mouth.

Today, Adele’s habit includes added levels of disgust.

'I unzipper the cushion cover and tear off a piece about the size of half a pencil,' she said.

'Then I take it outside and rub it in dirt. The dirt makes it crunchier. Then I chew on it and swallow it.'

Her gastroenterologist, Dr. Christopher Olenec of the Digestive Health Center in Sarasota, Florida – the man who diagnosed Miss Edwards with Pica – was alarmed when Adele told him of her new habit with the dirt.

'The question became, "did she have a deficiency in her iron? And was that what was driving her to ingest the seat cushions?"

In fact she did. Miss Edwards’s blood contains half the amount of iron of a normal woman. For most, an easy solution would be regular consumption of iron supplements. But Miss Edwards has always struggled to combat her addiction with regular treatment.

'I’ve taken the iron supplements and they seem to actually work,' she says. ...

'It’s hard to try to get people to understand how bad this addiction is.

'I’m aware of the life risks. Doctors have told me I could get a stomach blockage so bad I’d go septic and my intestines could explode. That scares me.' ...

Miss Edwards, who is in discussions to enter a therapy center in California for people with similar strange addictions, believes this is the time for her to be serious about quitting.

'I’ve been doing this almost my whole life, 21 years. It’s consumed me. It’s putting my life and family at risk. I’m trying to stop this.'

via Comfort food: The woman who can't stop eating sofas | Mail Online.

In addition to the painful grapefruit sized blockage the article says she once had, I would think there would be chemicals in the foam that would make her very sick.

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