Do you love chewing ice? It may be a sign of this

Do you love chewing ice? It may be a sign of this

If you always have a cup filled with ice to chew on, you may want to speak with your doctor.

Intense cravings to chew ice is called pagophagia. It’s a type of pica, a craving to chew on or eat non-nutritional substances, such as dirt or paper.

However, enjoying a snow cone or the leftover ice in your drink isn’t pagophagia.

“Pagophagia is characterized by intense and persistent cravings,” says Dr. Melissa Garcia, a family medicine physician at Aurora Health Care. “Since eating ice is less harmful than eating other non-food items, such as chalk or paint chips, it can go unnoticed.”

Dr. Garcia adds that pagophagia is often associated with another underlying medical condition, such as anemia.

Anemia is a condition in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissue. “There are many types of anemia,” explains Dr. Garcia. “The most common is iron deficiency anemia, characterized by the lack of iron in the blood, often due to blood loss or pregnancy.”

Symptoms of anemia include:
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headaches
Risk factors for anemia include:
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Pregnancy
  • Poor diet
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Other chronic conditions or illnesses, such as cancer, kidney failure or diabetes

“Current research hasn’t revealed why anemic individuals may develop pagophagia,” Dr. Garcia notes. “However, it would be beneficial to discuss your ice chewing habits with your doctor if you are concerned or develop additional symptoms.”

Your doctor may order a lab test to rule out iron deficiency. In some cases, mental health conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or severe emotional distress, may cause pagophagia.

Find care where you live: Illinois | Wisconsin

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  1. Barbara Bertoldi May 30, 2024 at 6:54 pm · Reply

    Why do my knuckles ALWAYS get PURPLE & BLUE..and sometimes my toes??

  2. I’m 60 years old. Just found out I have a Blood Disease which is Heriteratory Hemochromatosis. Iron Overload which can’t release Iron in my Organs.
    Anything else you know about this

  3. I have extreamly sever gastroparesis…I am a tube feed failure and have been on TPN for 2 years and am unable to even do “pleasure tastes”. I also have primary Addisons question is how to handle them together in this HEAT!!! MY TPN is hooked up for 18 hrs., saline takes 3 hrs….not much time to attempt 2 salines.

  4. I became obsessed with eating/chewing on ice. Was desperate every few hours to crunch on it. 5 lb bags were going fast! No scientific studies for backup, but vitamin D eliminated the compulsive urge for ice almost immediately.

    • Hmm.. 5lb bags go in about a day and a half for me. I am severely anemic I know. I’ve had blood transfusions but it comes back. So vit D helped? I don’t eat red meat, and no pork at all and I barely eat chicken. Any suggestions?? I do have Autism and ADHD however I don’t think that is causing it.

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Sammy Kalski