Can Eating Toilet Paper Kill You?

For a person addicted to eating toilet paper, the thoughts of the paper harming you must have crossed your mind more than once. Although not common, some people find themselves craving toilet paper, and this strange disorder called “Pica” is linked to various causes, including unhealthy mental conditions. But can eating toilet paper kill you? YES AND NO. To answer this question in detail, we will consider several factors. 

Read on to understand under what circumstances eating toilet paper will kill you.

What Makes Up Toilet Paper?

Most toilet paper is made from wood pulp, which has no effect when consumed. However, some brands add chemicals like bleach or dyes, which can poison the toilet paper. If you’re unsure about the ingredients in your toilet paper, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not eat it.

When Can Eating Toilet Paper Get You Killed?

While chewing toilet paper occasionally cannot get you killed, there are situations where it can. These situations include:

Eating Big Volumes of Toilet Paper

In general, most people suffering from Pica get away with eating small volumes of toilet paper. Chewing paper here and there once in a while has no serious effects on a person’s health. However, consuming large volumes of toilet paper consistently will affect your health.

Some of the complications include:

Intestinal Blockage: One of the effects of toilet paper is bowel obstruction. A blocked bowel can be a life-threatening emergency that may end up requiring immediate medical surgery.

Constipation: Consuming too much toilet paper, especially if you don’t drink enough water, can lead to constipation. The toilet paper won’t break down like food, so it’ll remain in your system until it either comes out or gets digested. The lack of movement from the stool could lead to an anal fissure (a tear at the opening of the anus).

Choking: Consuming too much toilet paper can also lead to choking. It can be pretty dangerous when your throat swells, and you have trouble breathing.

Eating Toilet Paper While Having Underlying Medical Conditions

Certain health conditions are more likely to result in serious complications from eating toilet paper, including:

● Crohn’s disease

● Diverticulitis

● Diabetes mellitus type 1 

● Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 

● Ileostomy

● Inflammatory bowel disease 

● Irritable colon syndrome

● Ulcerative colitis

● Chronic diarrhea.

Why You Crave Toilet Paper

Although not common, some people crave eating toilet paper. Pica refers to craving non-food items, which can be harmful and deadly. So, why do people crave toilet paper? The following reasons may cause someone to crave toilet paper:

Mental illness: Certain mental illnesses like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or anxiety disorders may cause someone to develop Pica. If you have any of these conditions and are experiencing symptoms of Pica, it is important to talk with your doctor as soon as possible. 

Lack of sufficient nutrients: A lack of certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in the diet can lead to a deficiency, leading to cravings for non-edible substances. Dietary deficiencies in iron, zinc, vitamin B12, folic acid, calcium, and other essential vitamins may lead to one’s preference for unusual foods such as toilet paper.

Conditions like pregnancy and sickle cell anemic:  Both pregnancy and sickle cell anemia are linked to a higher incidence of Pica. It is very important if you experience this type of craving to consult with your health care provider so they can determine the best course of treatment for you.

Poor living conditions during childhood: In some cases, Pica might be attributed to poor living conditions during childhood. Conditions like poverty, abuse, and absentee parent/s contribute to developing Pica. Other environmental factors such as malnutrition and maternal deprivation could also lead to a craving for toilet paper.

Why You Get Addicted to Eating Toilet Paper

Believe it or not, some people are addicted to eating toilet paper. And no, they’re not just teenagers with nothing better to do. The YouTube video below from TLC UK channel shows a woman who has been eating toilet paper for over 20 years now.

Video courtesy of tlc uk on YouTube.

Now, there are several reasons why someone might develop this strange addiction.

Enjoying the taste and texture: Some find that the texture and flavor of toilet paper are enjoyable and thus make a habit out of consuming it.

Habit: A developed habit can become an addiction if left unchecked for too long. As with any addiction, moderation is key.

Copping mechanism: People like Kesha, shown in the video above may be using toilet paper as a coping mechanism to deal with stress, boredom, anxiety, or other negative emotions.

It may also help them cope with uncomfortable situations like this lady introducing her first serious partner to her father.

If you find yourself eating more than you should or experiencing other symptoms such as withdrawal when you don’t have access to TP, then you may want to seek help before things get worse.

How to Stop Eating Toilet Paper

If you or someone you know has been eating toilet paper, it’s important to seek professional help. This behavior can be a sign of an underlying mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression.

In some cases, people eat toilet paper because they’re trying to cope with a traumatic event. If this is the case, therapy can be very helpful. If you’re not sure why you’re eating toilet paper, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

A good start would be speaking with your healthcare provider about how to address these behaviors. It’s also important to keep in mind that some medical conditions may cause unusual cravings for non-food items like toilet paper. These may include celiac disease and iron deficiency anemia. Your healthcare provider can help determine what’s happening if you think that might be the issue.

Bottom Line

So, can eating toilet paper kill you? In short, no. While ingesting toilet paper may not be the most pleasant experience, it won’t kill you. However, there are some risks associated with eating toilet paper. For example, you could choke on it or get an intestinal blockage. So, while it’s not deadly, we wouldn’t recommend making a habit of eating toilet paper.

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