Healthy Food & Life: Why You're Addicted to Chewing Ice Cubes
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Why You're Addicted to Chewing Ice Cubes

Addicted to chewing ice cubes

Do you crave chewing ice cubes all day and night? If so, you are not alone. Chewing ice cubes addictions are more common than you might think. Some people are so addicted to chewing ice cubes, they will actually have a special bucket of ice in their freezer and no one had better touch it. Others get addicted to certain kinds of ice cubes from specific restaurants and will order a glass of ice to go.

Why am I addicted to chewing ice cubes? There are numerous reasons a person can be addicted to chewing ice. One of the most common reasons or causes is iron deficiency anemia, but this is not always the cause.


Ice Cube Chewing Addiction

Sometimes a person can be so addicted to chewing ice cubes, they will have ice cubes with them at the dinner table and when they go to bed. They chew and eat ice cubes all day long because of this addiction. There are valid medical reasons for being addicted to eating ice.

Have you ever watched people crunching and eating ice cubes as if it was Captain Crunch cereal. My teeth hurt just watching them. Some people that are addicted to eating ice cubes can eat as much as 2 gallons of ice per day and more. And they cannot stop this addiction to eating ice.

Those who are addicted to eating ice even prefer certain types of ice and places that sell just the right ice. Many prefer the ice that the Sonic drive-ins sell or a certain grocery store gourmet soft ice. They have cravings to eat ice all day long and will get into bad moods if they don’t have it. Those addicted to eating ice will warn others to stay away from their ice trays and going as far as having a bucket of ice with every meal.

It is reported that women are addicted to eating ice more than men are. Many women say that their first craving for eating ice was when they were pregnant and that sometimes it went away until they became pregnant again. Many teenage girls also reported being addicted to eating ice.

Pica is the medical term for being addicted to non-nutritive substances. This could be dirt, clay, coal, chalk, paint chips, erasers and even more dangerous items like glass and other harmful items. Pagophagia is the actual term for being addicted to eating ice cubes.

There is an old saying, that if you crave a certain food, you are low in those nutrients. Some doctors are now theorizing this could be the case with Pica and Pagophagia, at least in cases concerning soil and water. Water contains certain nutrients and there are nutrients in soil.

Is Chewing Ice Bad For Your Health?

An addiction to chewing ice cubes can also lead to some health issues such as:
  • Damage to your teeth including cracked and chipped teeth
  • Pain and possible injury to your tongue, throat, stomach, and TMJ
  • Digestive issues like extreme gas, bloating and stomach pain
  • Some have ever reported damage to their larynx causing their voice to change
 The longer you have an addiction to chewing ice, the worse the health issues and damage could become, especially if you chew ice all day long.


Burning Mouth Syndrome

The majority of the people having an ice eating addiction also say that their mouths and tongue burned and that eating ice made them feel better. Other symptoms of burning mouth syndrome might also include:

  • Your mouth is dry most of the time.
  • Normal things taste differently some of the time.
  • You have a tingling in your mouth and on your tongue.
These symptoms are usually absent during the night and upon waking. The symptoms of burning mouth syndrome will increase as the day goes on being worst in the evening before bed, causing some to have a hard time falling asleep.

Medical Reasons For Ice Eating Addiction

The web sites where people discuss being addicted to eating ice reported going to a doctor and finding out they weren’t only anemic, but severely anemic. Studies have shown that people with iron deficiency anemia, 88% of them had an addiction to eating ice cubes. Anemia is a medical condition in which the hemoglobin or red blood cell count is lower than normal [1].

 For men, anemia is usually defined as a hemoglobin count lower than 13.5 grams/100 ml (milliliters). For women, anemia is typically defined as a hemoglobin count lower than 12 grams/100 ml.

Many of those addicted to eating ice report that their blood tests came back with extreme anemia to the point where some even had to have a blood transfusion. Most of the people with an ice eating addiction had hemoglobin numbers as low as 5 or 6, which is dangerously low. After being put on multi-vitamins and iron pills, many reported that the craving for eating ice went away, though the habit remained for some time, like many addictions.

Another theory is people who are addicted to chewing ice are also low in minerals that are found in hard water. If the ice they are eating is made from hard water, they could be low in those minerals. The most common minerals in hard water are calcium and magnesium. Other nutrient deficiencies that can cause burning mouth syndrome are zinc, folate (B9), thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and Cobalamin (vitamin B-12). If you don’t already take a multivitamin, you should consider taking one or also taking a B complex supplement. 

Symptoms of Anemia

Some of the symptoms of anemia are the same as reported in those with ice eating addictions and include a burning mouth, burning tongue, sore tongue, swollen tongue and an overly dry mouth. Other symptoms are fatigue or easily fatigued, brittle nails and restless leg syndrome.

How to Stop Chewing Ice

If you chew ice all day long, you should have your blood and hemoglobin tested immediately. There is the chance you are just addicted to eating ice out of an addictive habit with no underlying medical reasons. But if your ice chewing addiction is due to being anemic, your doctor can prescribe iron supplements that should cure the anemia.

If you do eat ice all day long because of the burning mouth syndrome and you do not have anemia, you should work with your doctor and or dentist to find the cause of this. Doctors report numerous reasons for burning mouth syndrome including prescription medicine, dental work, vitamin deficiency and cranial nerve damage.

About the Author

Sam Montana is a certified Food Over Medicine instructor from the Wellness Forum Health Center and certified in optimal nutrition from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Copyright © Sam Montana 2009-2019


[1] Annals of Internal Medicine
ice chewing addiction


  1. I'm not anaemic but I crave for ice for like every hour! How can I reduce my craving and slowly get rid of this habit?

  2. You could be low in certain minerals that are found in the water itself. Do you take a multivitamin? You could ask your doctor why you crave ice, or possibly you are low in certain minerals like some of the vitamin B's or magnesium. You should consider talking to your doctor about this.

  3. Oh my goodness. This is so interesting! I didn't know it could mean a possible vitamin deficiency. I don't know anyone in my family that chews ice so often but I'm gonna have to keep an eye out about this. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Kaylee, the most common deficiency is iron which can cause anemia. Other than that magnesium and calcium is usually what is missing in the diet.

  4. Informative posts on the reasons behind ice chewing obsessions. I enjoyed learning more about why it happens.