Pica is disorder in which people crave and eat non-food items or items with no nutritional value, such as dirt, paper or ice. A common symptom of iron deficiency . A new study into pagophagia sufferers links the craving to low haemoglobin. The relationship between pagophagia (ice pica) and iron deficiency anemia was interviewed about their habits of eating ice or other non-food substances.
If symptoms occur, they can include fatigue, headache and foggy thinking. As anemia worsens, a person may begin to feel lightheaded, pale, short of breath and have a sore tongue. Iron deficiency can also cause brittle nails and a blue coloration of the white portion of a person's eyes.
The desire to eat ice can occur with any severity of iron deficiency anemia.
Craving and chewing ice: A sign of anemia? - Mayo Clinic
Eating ice when you are suffering from iron deficiency anemia may also help ease other symptoms of the condition such as a sore tongue.
Testing To know if eating ice is related to iron deficiency, doctors perform blood tests. No specific test exists to determine the cause of pica, but testing for mineral deficiencies common to ice cravings including iron and zinc is possible. Blood tests can also help determine any additional signs of malnutrition. If a nutritional deficiency exists, changing your diet and possibly using supplements can help treat the condition, which may also help end your ice cravings.
Pagophagia in iron deficiency anemia.
Dietary Iron Sources Good sources of dietary iron include foods that come from animals such as beef, eggs and shellfish. Your body absorbs iron from animal sources better than plant sources, which include dried fruit, dark, leafy green vegetables and baked beans. Pairing foods high in vitamin C with plant sources of iron will help increase the absorption of iron. Eat strawberries, which are high in vitamin C, in a spinach salad, which is rich in iron.
It may take two months for treatments to correct iron deficiency anemia and relieve the related symptoms. Of the participants, 13 showed signs of pagophagia. Some of these people took oral iron supplements, which ended up stopping their cravings for ice. Another study suggests that chewing ice may increase alertness in people who have iron deficiency. Chewing ice may also be a sign of an emotional issue. Some people may have symptoms of pagophagia if they are under a lot of stress.
Others may have obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD or another developmental disorder. In these cases, chewing ice may be soothing in some way. Before you head to your appointment, try writing down anything about your cravings and habits you think your doctor may find helpful in diagnosis, such as: If your doctor suspects iron deficiency anemia or another deficiency, you may need a blood test or other lab work to confirm. Treatment to relieve pagophagia If you have iron deficiency anemia, treating the deficiency may relieve pica symptoms without the need for any other intervention.
What Is Pagophagia? Causes, Treatment, and More
A buildup of iron may lead to cancer and damage your arteries and heart. Iron supplements can also cause constipation. Cognitive behavioral therapy CBT may help in cases where pagophagia is caused by stress, OCD, or another mental health issue.
The therapy may involve either positive and negative reinforcements or counseling.
Complications of pagophagia Eating large quantities of ice may harm your teeth by damaging enamel and cracking or chipping a tooth.