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Ingestion is the consumption of a substance by an organism. In animals, it is accomplished by taking the substance in through the mouth into the gastrointestinal tract, such as through eating or drinking.

In general terms, eating (formally, ingestion) is the process of consuming something edible, i.e. food, for the purpose of providing for the nutritional needs of an animal, particularly their energy requirements. All animals must eat other organisms in order to survive: carnivores eat other animals, herbivores eat plants, and omnivores consume a mixture of both.

While the process of eating varies from species to species, in humans eating is performed by placing food in the mouth and then swallowing it, with chewing often occurring between these actions. Eaten food is then digested.


Disorders Edit

Physiologically, eating is generally triggered by hunger, but there are numerous physical and psychological conditions that can affect appetite and disrupt normal eating patterns. These include depression, food allergies, bulimia, anorexia nervosa, pituitary gland misfunction and other endocrine problems, and numerous other illnesses and eating disorders.

A chronic lack of nutritious food can cause various illnesses, and will eventually lead to starvation. When this happens in a locality on a massive scale it is considered a famine.

If eating and drinking is not possible, as is often the case when recovering from surgery, alternatives are enteral nutrition and parenteral nutrition.

Neurological control of eating behaviourEdit

Main article: Neurological control of eating behaviour


Besides nutritional items, other substances which may be ingested include medications, recreational drugs, and substances considered inedible such as foreign bodies or excrement. Ingestion is a common route taken by pathogenic organisms and poisons entering the body.

Ingestion can also refer to a mechanism picking up something and making it enter an internal hollow of that mechanism.

Foreign objectsEdit

Watch battery or button cells, are often mistakenly ingested, particularly by children and the elderly. They may be mistaken for pills because of their size and shape, or they may be swallowed after being held in the mouth while the battery is being changed. Battery ingestion can cause medical problems including blocked airway, vomiting, irritability, persistent drooling, and rash (due to nickel metal allergy).[1]

Pica is an abnormal appetite for non-nutritive items or for food items in a form not normally eaten, such as flour. Coprophagia is the consumption of feces, a behavior common in some animals.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Battery Ingestion. eMedicineHealth.com. URL accessed on 2007-04-15.
de:Ingestion
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