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April 12, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

Eating Ice: What Does it Mean and Why is it Bad for You?

The Multiple Uses of Ice in Medicine

Ice has multiple purposes. Not only can it be used for cooling someone down on a hot mid-summer evening it can also be used for preservation, cooking, sports, and other recreational activities. In some countries and cultures, ice plays a very important role.

Ice is also used for the soothing effect that it brings to the body. For example, doctors recommend icing a bruised area to cool down the inflamed veins in the body. Ice is also used to preserve a body part in the case that it gets amputated and needs to be reattached to the body.

Ice chips are also recommended by doctors for pregnant women who are undergoing the process of labor.

Ice is a staple for many people everywhere, and although it may seem harmless, eating or craving ice could be a sign of many things and not just an indicator of your hunger.

Do People Crave Ice?

The short answer is, yes! Many people all over the world crave ice. Reasons for their cravings may defer, but it is very common. There can be several underlying factors as to why someone craves ice and we will go through some of them in this blog.

One common demographic that is known to crave ice is pregnant women. This act is seen to be compulsive and doesn’t really have that many underlying causes and is usually brushed under the umbrella of pregnancy cravings. However, researchers have since linked this pregnancy craving to a form of eating disorder known as Pica.

Pica is a disorder where people tend to consume non-food items such as ice compulsively. Usually, the reasoning behind developing this disorder is mental and it usually comes with a set of other mental disorders as well. Therefore, those showing tendencies for consuming ice should be closely observed for any signs of mental disorders.

The other demographic that one can also look towards for tending to crave ice, is those that have iron deficiency anemia. Some researchers believe that chewing ice creates an effect in the body that sends more blood to the brain. This then means that the brain is also receiving more oxygen and can therefore also think more clearly now. This then creates a soothing effect for the body and brings clarity to the mind.

Therefore, those who crave ice are usually suspected of having iron-deficiency anemia or Pica. One can get checked for iron deficiency through a simple blood test.

How Does Eating Ice Affect You?

Eating ice may seem to be harmless, it’s just frozen water, right? However, eating ice does have its fair share of consequences.

One of the major consequences is the dental problems that may occur. For a course of time after consuming and chomping your way through a lot of ice, the enamel in your teeth will wear off. The enamel is the protective outer layer on your teeth and if it wears off your teeth can become very sensitive.

Further complications can also arise from anemia or pica. Therefore, getting a blood test done would be very beneficial for the patient.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and a healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.