A Man is eating toilet paper

Can eating toilet paper kill you? Explore the potential dangers and health risks associated with consuming this unconventional material.

Understand the effects on your digestive system and overall well-being.

It’s unusual to eat toilet paper! The ingredients of chemicals used in the production process of toilet paper rolls, especially the bleaching agents, could be harmful.

However, since the wood pulp is not dangerous and the amounts of chemicals used in the production process are insignificant, eating toilet paper may be harmless.

But eating too much toilet paper can cause a nutrition deficiency-related illness, choking, intestine blockage, and tearing. Anyone with this eating disorder should seek urgent medical attention as it can quickly escalate into a life-threatening condition.

Also Read: Where to put toilet paper holder in small bathroom

What happens if I eat toilet paper?

Inadequate nutrition may occur when paper substitutes for food that has good nutrition. It can also lead to choking, intestine blockage, and tearing.

Wood is used to make paper products, such as paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper. Its fibers are made from cellulose, and they are very able to absorb water very well.

These cellulose fibers enable bacteria to thrive so fast. Eventually, bacteria that reach a certain threshold will start to release toxic substances that can cause a person to become sick.

People with a pica eating disorder called Xylophagia, a disorder in which people overeat dramatically. They may consume things like pencils, tree bark, and different types of paper, including toilet paper.

Other types of pica disorders, such as pagophagia, geophagia, and amylophagia, compel a person to feel like eating different types of items without any nutritional value.

So the big question is, what causes people with pica eating disorder to crave food that is dangerous and hard to digest?

Pica disorder can give you a sudden urge to eat weird, potentially dangerous items, even though the items have no value. Young children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable.

People with pica disorder are usually extremely eager to eat things that are not healthy – such as ice cubes or small pieces of wood or plastic.

Pica disorders may also occur in people with developmental disabilities. Pica symptoms are usually only temporarily severe. If someone suddenly starts eating toilet paper, talk to a doctor immediately.

What are the symptoms of pica disorder?

People who suffer from pica disorder or xylophagia typically eat paper the most. However, there are more severe cases.

Pica disorder can also be caused by iron and zinc deficiency and other conditions like Klein-Levin syndrome, developmental disabilities, and schizophrenia. 

It doesn’t mean, however, that if someone you know has eaten something considered nonfood, they have a pica disorder.

To be officially confirmed of the Pica disorder, they must have been eating nonfood items for at least one month.

Those who are currently suffering from pica are unlikely to become healthy if they continue to eat nonfood items for at least a month. 

Some of the other nonfood items people with pica disorder eat include sand, feces, ice, soap, pencils, wood, dirt, and a cigarette butt.

Some of the notable symptoms include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Stomach pain and cramping
  • Constipation
  • School problems
  • Lead poisoning 
  • An intestinal blockage 
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Bacterial infections 
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Dental problems
  • Behavioral problems

Some people with Xylophagia can consume both nutritious and unpalatable foods, so it might be hard to tell if someone with Xylophagia is eating regular food. But many people with pica disorder are completely malnourished.

If someone in your family shows signs of having an eating disorder, get them into treatment. Also, if you see someone who appears to be choking or having severe pain, seek immediate help.

Why do some people eat toilet paper?

People often eat a lot of paper to feel good, but they may suffer from a bad eating disorder. Researchers don’t know why people eat paper, but they do know that it’s more prevalent in people who have:

  • Autism and other intellectual disabilities: children typically eat paper when they’re very hungry.
  • Mental disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or schizophrenia.
  • People who are severely malnourished or hungry (some people feel fuller by eating nonfood items).
  • Sometimes such people are deficient in iron or zinc, which could trigger particular food cravings.
  • Pica (chewing on a piece of paper) is very common among children who are poor or who have experienced abuse and neglect.
  • Most cases of pica or eating paper usually occur in children and expectant mothers.
  • When a child is two years old or younger, they can put things in their mouths; this is not considered normal behavior when they are older than two.
  • Does eating toilet paper have side effects?

Eating toilet paper can cause stomach pain, bloody stool, infections, problems with the bowels, and even blockage of the intestines or cause them to hurt.

For example, food cravings caused by consuming too much paper can cause you to become deficient in certain nutrients. A patient is likely to complain of iron deficiency.

Can Eating Paper Hurt You?

There is no nutritional benefit to eating toilet paper, but it’s not dangerous, either. Paper is generally made from cellulose, a naturally occurring substance in many plants.

However, some of the chemicals used in the production of toilet paper can be harmful to humans. In fact, some of the symptoms above can be life-threatening.

Can Humans Digest Toilet Paper?

Toilet tissue is a natural product derived from trees’ natural fibers. While wood may not be poisonous, human beings cannot digest it.

Eating too much toilet paper can cause you to become nauseated or even vomit, causing a gastric obstruction.

All these symptoms can lead to severe stomach pain and the retention of feces to dangerous levels. In some cases, the sweat of someone who eats too much toilet paper may start smelling like feces.

Eating a lot of toilet tissue causes you to feel anxious or stressed. This is especially true if you have a condition called Xylophagia. Xylophagia disorder is characterized by excessive paper consumption, a condition many people suffer from.


People develop weird cravings for inedible things that don’t have nutritional value, and sometimes it can sound abnormal. If you or your child is obsessed with eating toilet paper, don’t be worried too much about it, though! All you need to help the situation is to focus on a balanced diet.

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