Is Craving for Ice a Warning Sign of Anemia?

sign of anemia - Sriramakrishnahospital

All of us at any point in our lives we might have eaten ice. Especially in childhood we had this habit go on for a long time and gradually it might have faded away. Sometimes adults or older people may also crave to eat ice. When it comes to our body every unhealthy habit may indicate an underlying health condition. Did you know the craving to eat ice is a sign of anemia? Eating ice occasionally may be fine but constant craving to eat ice isn’t a healthy sign. 

When you have an intense craving to chew on ice as mentioned it is a sign of anemia and the condition is referred to as pagophagia. And is often related to nutritional deficiency. Also not all times craving for ice is a sign of anemia as iron deficiency during pregnancy can make crave ice.

But is craving for ice a sign of anemia? This article can help you. 

What is meant by anemia?

Before dividing into the logic behind the craving for ice and the sign of anemia, let’s understand what anemia is. Anemia is a medical condition characterized by a deficiency of red blood cells or a decrease in the quality or quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. 

Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that binds with oxygen and carries it to the body’s tissues and organs. When the body lacks an adequate number of healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin, it can lead to various signs of anemia and health issues.

What are the major signs of anemia?

Anemia can manifest in various ways, and the low iron symptoms can vary in severity. Some common signs of anemia include:


Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy is one of the hallmark signs of anemia. When there aren’t enough red blood cells to transport oxygen efficiently, the body has to work harder, leading to fatigue.

Pale skin:

Other signs of anemia can be a noticeable paleness in the skin, especially in the face and mucous membranes.

Shortness of breath:

Insufficient oxygen-carrying capacity can make even simple tasks, like climbing stairs, feel exhausting and lead to shortness of breath.

Dizziness and weakness:

Anemic individuals may experience dizziness, lightheadedness, and muscle weakness due to reduced oxygen supply to the brain and muscles.

Cold hands and feet:

Poor circulation resulting from anemia can lead to cold extremities, making the hands and feet feel chilly even in warm conditions.

Chest pain:

In severe cases, anemia can strain the heart as it tries to compensate for the decreased oxygen levels, leading to chest pain or angina.


Insufficient oxygen reaching the brain can cause headaches and difficulty concentrating.

How come craving for ice can be a sign of anemia?

Now that we have a basic understanding of anemia, let’s explore the connection between craving for ice and this condition. You might wonder, “Why on earth would someone with anemia crave ice?” It’s a valid question.

Pica – A sign of anemia:

The craving for ice, or even other non-food items like clay, starch, or paper, is a phenomenon known as pica. Pica is characterized by the persistent and abnormal desire to consume substances that are not typically considered food. While pica can have various underlying causes, it has been associated with anemia, particularly a type known as iron-deficiency anemia.

What are the signs of craving for ice associated with signs of anemia?

The major sign of anemia with craving for ice is chewing ice or having an urge to eat or chew frost, shaved ice, or crushed ice. You might see the following signs like,

  • Pale skin
  • Headache
  • Fatigue 
  • Sore or inflamed tongue
  • Dizziness 
  • Depression

If you are experiencing any of these signs, reach out to a clinical hematologist in Coimbatore to avoid  any complications.

How is the sign of anemia the main culprit for craving ice?

The most prevalent type of anemia in the world is iron-deficiency anemia. It occurs when the body lacks an adequate supply of iron, which is essential for the production of hemoglobin. Without enough iron, the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin, leading to decreased ability to carry oxygen. 

The link between pica, ice cravings, and iron deficiency anemia is that chewing ice may provide relief from the inflammation or pain caused by the condition. However, it’s essential to note that ice cravings can be a sign of anemia, not everyone with anemia experiences this craving, and also in everyone who craves ice may not be a sign of anemia. When you keep chewing on ice and do not get treated immediately for signs of anemia there can be a lot of complications of anemia that can follow. 

Why do people showing signs of anemia find comfort in chewing ice?

Some theories suggest that ice chewing may temporarily numb the tongue and mouth, providing a soothing effect. Others propose that it may be related to the cooling sensation ice provides, which might alleviate inflammation in the mouth and throat often associated with anemia.

When should you seek medical help for craving ice?

If you or someone you know is experiencing a persistent and unexplained craving for ice, it’s essential to consult an endocrinologist. While craving ice alone it may not be a sign of anemia alone, it could be a signal that something is abnormal with your health. A thorough medical evaluation, including blood tests to check for signs of anemia and iron levels, can help determine the underlying cause of your signs of anemia. 

What are the different treatment options for treating craving ice associated with signs of anemia?

If you are diagnosed with anemia, the treatment will depend on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Iron-deficiency anemia, which is often associated with ice cravings, can typically be managed by increasing dietary iron intake or taking iron supplements as prescribed by a healthcare provider. In some cases, further diagnosing may be needed to identify and address the root cause of the iron deficiency.

Important Takeaway:

If you’re someone with a serious craving for ice then you might need to visit a hematology hospital in Coimbatore to get diagnosed and get treated for nutritional deficiency.

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