Chewing ice is not good for you by any means, but it isn't particularly harmful unless done excessively. It is also imperative that if you find yourself addicted to chewing ice you see a doctor, as it could be a sign of an underlying problem.
Chewing ice (known also as pagophagia) is a subset of a common medical condition known as pica, or the uncontrollable urge to eat things that have no nutritional value. On its own, chewing ice here and there is not particularly harmful. Over time, though, it can cause damage to your teeth, tongue, throat, and stomach. Some have even reported a change in their voice, however, this is only seen as a result of an ice chewing addiction.
The primary thing to be concerned about regarding ice chewing is that it is often an indicator of another problem. People who are stressed or have OCD are more prone to chewing ice. The most concerning cause of chewing ice that you should be aware of is iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is a condition classified as too few red blood cells due to little iron in the body. This problem affects women, especially pregnant women, far more than men. With 3% of the male population suffering from iron deficiency anemia, the rates jump to 20% of women and 50% of pregnant women. According to some researchers, chewing ice can give a boost of energy to people with iron deficiency by inducing an increased flow oxygenated blood to the brain, something that may be linked to the mammalian diving reflex.
Other problems associated with chewing ice are that it is incredibly bothersome for anyone who has to listen to it and may signal other nutritional deficiencies. It is highly advisable that anyone who is a chronic ice chewer or has an addiction to chewing ice see a doctor as it can be a sign of a more serious underlying problem.
Possible short-term side effects
Possible long-term side effects
- tooth damage
- tongue damage
- throat damage
- stomach damage
- voice change (uncommon)
- may indicate nutritional deficiency
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Written by Jeff Volling | 12-28-2015
Written by Jeff Volling
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