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Craving Ice

Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

December 08, 2021

December 08, 2021

Craving Ice
Craving Ice

You may have noticed that some people feel like eating ice again and again. It is not abnormal for this to happen in summer. But when this craving keeps on increasing, then there can be a serious problem behind it. Sometimes, the situation becomes so serious that one thinks of snow all the time. If a person keeps consuming ice for more than a month or their craving keeps on increasing, then it becomes a matter of great concern.

In this article, we will try to understand why one feels like eating ice all the time, what are the symptoms and treatment of craving to eat ice, as well as the disadvantages of eating ice.

What is ice pica

When a person feels the urge to eat ice repeatedly, then this condition is called pagophagia in medical terms. This is an eating disorder, also known as ice pica. It is a type of mental state, in which the person's mind tends to crave chewing things like paper, light, sand, dirt, etc. Usually, children and pregnant women experience ice cravings. But the craving to eat ice, again and again, can happen to any person.

(Read more: Early pregnancy symptoms)

Ice pica symptoms

Ice pica is a compulsion to suck, eat or chew ice and/or drink ice-cold beverages, similar to an addiction. The difference between normal eating of ice and ice pica is that ice pica tends to be a long, persistent craving.

Furthermore, in ice pica, the urge to eat ice becomes an obsession and does not satisfy the body's need for water. Additionally, the patient spends a lot of time thinking about the ice as well as chewing or sucking it.

Patients with ice pica may want specific types of ice or may wish to consume it in specific ways. For example, some patients get used to drinking ice cold drinks, while others prefer to chew on ice. Some patients eat ice with a layer of sugar syrup and others like to put ice in their mouth and suck on ice like toffee. Irrespective of the craving, all these patients have one thing in common – the constant desire to eat ice and the desire to eat ice.

Craving ice causes

Frequent cravings to eat ice or to drink ice cold drinks can be due to iron deficiency in the body. A person may develop anemia due to iron deficiency, in which case, one may feel like eating ice again and again. However, the exact reason behind the connection of anemia and iron deficiency with ice is still unknown.

Some studies suggest that people with iron deficiency and anemia are more likely to develop pagophagia. The results of studies found that 16% of people who have iron deficiency in their bodies have ice cravings. The researchers speculated that people consume ice to remove the swelling of the tongue due to anemia. Research also suggests that young women, pregnant women and people who have donated blood are more likely to develop ice cravings. 

(Read more: Anemia diet)

What are other causes of ice cravings?

As mentioned earlier, the exact cause of ice cravings is not yet known. As such, this problem can be associated with some medical conditions like:

(Read more: Treatment of mental illness)

Craving Ice Treatment

If a person feels like eating ice again and again, then it is important to know which underlying condition is causing this urge. For example:

  • If a person feels like eating ice because of iron deficiency, then it is advisable to take iron supplements.
  • When the habit of eating ice is due to pica, then the problem can be treated through some therapy like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) or talk therapy. To stop the urge to eat ice through CBT, alternatives are added instead of ice that are not harmful to health.
  • If you experience jaw pain or toothache after eating ice frequently, contact your dentist.

(Read more: Toothache home remedies)

Craving ice complications

  • Eating an excessive amount of ice can cause problems related to teeth like severe tingling, cavities, etc.
  • If iron deficiency is not treated on time, then serious problems related to the heart like enlargement of the heart or heart failure can occur.
  • Pica is a very dangerous condition. This can lead to a variety of complications, many of which are also medical emergencies. This is because if someone has pagophagia, then they are forced to eat the wrong things, due to which the following problems can occur:
    • Bowel problems
    • Intestinal obstruction
    • Hole in the intestine
    • Spread of infection

(Read more: Infectious diseases)

Takeaway

If you feel like eating ice, again and again, there can be a medical problem behind it, but the main reason for this is considered to be pica and iron deficiency in the body. In such a situation, if you feel that you are experiencing the urge to reach for the ice repeatedly, then contact the doctor immediately.

(Read more: ​​Consult with doctor)



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