Is constantly craving and chewing ice a sign of anemia?

Answer From Rajiv K. Pruthi, M.B.B.S.

Possibly. The term "pica" describes craving and chewing substances that have no nutritional value — such as ice, clay, soil or paper. Craving and chewing ice, known as pagophagia, is often associated with iron deficiency, with or without anemia, although the reason is unclear.

Less commonly, other nutritional problems may cause you to crave and chew ice. And in some individuals, pica is a sign of emotional problems, such as stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder or a developmental disorder.

A thorough medical evaluation can help determine if pica is due to an underlying medical condition. If the cause of pica is an emotional or developmental issue, cognitive behavioral therapy may be helpful.


Rajiv K. Pruthi, M.B.B.S.

Oct. 21, 2023