Emma Snowdon, 36, from Country Durham, England, has a bizarre addiction to sponges.
The mother-of-three has been chewing on sponges for over a decade, and chews around 14 per week.
Now, Snowdon is pursuing to quit her strange habit after her dentist found sores in her mouth.
She said, ‘There’s a funny side to it, but it can be awful, too, because I don’t understand why it started, or why I can’t stop. I worry my gums will be completely destroyed and I don’t want to be an old lady sitting there chewing sponges.’
Emma, who is a full-time carer to youngest son Ben, 5, who has chromosome 21q deletion – a genetic abnormality – explained how her addiction began 10 years ago when she had an agonising abscess on her tooth.
Suffering from severe pain she put a cold sponge in her mouth to soothe it, and found chewing it comforting. But her habit continued even after her abscess was cured.
Emma has made clear that she never swallows the sponge, instead she pops it in her mouth and chews until it virtually disintegrates, after which she spits it out.
She explains, ‘It got a lot worse during my first pregnancy. I even took a bag of about twenty-eight sponges with me to hospital when I gave birth.’
‘The midwives couldn’t stop laughing, they’d never seen anything like it,’ she added.
Emma even requested that she chew sponges, over receiving gas or air, while giving birth to her three children.
Since then, Emma has admitted her problem has escalated.
As well as bathroom sponges, she also munches on scouring pads, although she is fussy about which brand – insisting they only taste good if they are from Boots, Superdrug or Tesco – and is careful to avoid the rough parts.
Mark, Emma’s husband, ‘gets annoyed’ when he opens the cleaning cupboard to find sponges with several bite marks out of them.
Emma has managed to hide the habit from her friends and family, but has admitted that the habit is becoming too much to bear.
As a result, she is desperate to stop and keen to track down other people who share her strange compulsion.