Is obsession to chewing ice a telltale sign of anemia?


Q: Hello Doctors! Over the past year, I have developed an odd obsession with ice. Every time I have ice in my water, I have to chew on it (unless it is too big for me to bite, in which case I let it melt to a reasonable size before chewing on it). There are also times where I just chew on ice for fun. It has even gotten to the point where if it is snowing or I see snow, I have a bizarre urge to immediately eat ice. Today, a couple of my friends said that this habit could be a very telling symptom of anemia. Many articles online seemed to confirm this assertion. Should I be worried? Should I go to the doctor to get a blood test? Thank you so much for your time! I greatly appreciate it! Liliane


A:   "Pica" is the term used to describe the craving and chewing of substances that have no nutritional value such as ice, clay, cornstarch or paper. Chewing of ice have been studied to be associated with iron deficiency anemia or may be related to other nutritional problems as well. In some individuals, pica may be a sign of emotional problems, such as stress, OCD etc. You should get a blood test to assess your iron levels and if low, you may want to consult your doctor for iron supplements.

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