Are you quenching your thirst with a cube of ice in summer? This craving for ice is not only related to weather but has deeper medical implications such as anemia. Ice craving is more likely caused by iron deficiencies. The urge to chew ice cubes can become obsessive and may turn into an addiction. Eating ice cubes can cause severe damage to your teeth and gums.
Common Reasons for Ice Craving
The most common reason for ice craving is anemia. This is a medical condition in which the body does not have enough iron. Consequently, the body is unable to produce sufficient red blood cells to carry oxygen to the different parts of the body.
People suffering from anemia feel drained of energy and may experience weakness and shortness of breath. Anemia, or lack of iron in the blood, is one of the main causes of ice cravings. People with iron deficiency sometimes suffer from inflammation of the tongue. The chewing of ice helps to relieve this discomfort.
People always going on crash diets or with restrictive eating habits also get a strong urge to chew ice. Studies reveal that chewing ice gives the person suffering from anemia a strong mental boost. It indicates that ice chewing may increase alertness in people having low iron levels in the body.
A person experiencing an unquenchable ice craving may be suffering from a condition called Pica. This is a disorder that is characterized by a desire to eat non-food items that do not possess any degree of nutritional value, such as paint, paper, ice, clay, hair, etc.
If ice is the ingredient you crave, then you may have a specific type of pica known as pagophagia. Pica is more prevalent in children and is commonly related to an underlying nutrient deficiency, typically iron. If the cause of pica is an emotional or developmental issue then it is important to consult a psychiatrist to get the right treatment.
Health care professionals have identified that pregnant women are more prone to anemia due to the increased demands on blood supply and circulation. Poor nutritional intake or abnormal bleeding can result in iron deficiency during pregnancy, thus triggering an ice craving.
Other reasons for craving ice during pregnancy can be due to nausea and vomiting that occurs during this period. In such cases, eating ice helps pregnant women to stay hydrated without aggravating the symptoms of nausea.
In addition, ice has no specific odor or taste. And thus, many women discover that chewing ice helps to relieve the nauseous symptoms during pregnancy. Also, a woman’s metabolic rate increases during this time, resulting in swelling of the blood vessels or vasodilation. This can lead to feeling extra hot which may further increase the urge to binge on ice.
Lack of adequate diet or malnutrition can also trigger a compulsive urge to chew ice. Poor intake of nutritious and healthy foods leads to low iron levels in the body, leading to ice craving.
If you are working out regularly, you will require a nutritive diet with extra iron. Additionally, small amounts of iron are also sweated out during exercise. Too much exercise can cause dehydration. Thus, you can get into a compulsive habit of chewing ice as this would restore water content in your body.
Avid chewing of ice is an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Any type of emotional imbalance or poor mental health can trigger a consistent urge to crunch on a piece of ice. Occasionally, insatiable ice craving is considered as a sign of emotional distress and may have a psychological basis or some disorder in paediatric development.
Consult a Healthcare Professional regarding Your Ice Cravings
It is important to see your physician if you experience an intense and insatiable desire to eat or chew ice for at least a month. The doctor will perform a few blood tests to ascertain iron deficiency or anemia. A thorough medical evaluation and treatment can help to take care of this compulsive disorder.
Taking an iron-rich diet along with necessary supplements to increase iron levels may help to address your ice craving. It is also important to have your teeth evaluated by your doctor since chewing ice destroys the enamel of your teeth over time. He can advise if a visit to the dentist is required.