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Pagophagia (from Greek: pagos, frost/ice, + phagō, to eat[1]) is the compulsive consumption of ice or iced drinks.[2] It is a form of the disorder pica, and has been associated with iron-deficiency anemia,[3][4] and shown to respond to iron supplementation,[5][6] leading some investigators to postulate that some forms of pica may be the result of nutritional deficiency. Chewing ice may lessen pain in glossitis related to iron-deficiency anemia.[7] However, the American Dental Association recommends not chewing ice because it can crack teeth; instead, ice should be allowed to melt in the mouth.[8]

Folk wisdom (and some early investigators) maintained that pica reflected an appetite to compensate for nutritional deficiencies, such as low iron or zinc. Some forms of pica (as in pregnant women who are iron deficient) can be treated by supplementing the nutrient.[9]

Later research has demonstrated that the substances ingested generally do not provide the mineral or nutrient in which patients are deficient. As the people start eating nonfoods, pica can also cause the nutritional deficiencies with which it is associated.[9] In one case study, pagophagia was reported to cause iron-deficiency anemia. At the same time, however, the researchers suggested that chewing ice may benefit stomatitis and glossitis.[10] The nutrients obtained from nonfoods such as soil or ice can vary widely depending on geographic location. For example, ice made from hard water contains more minerals, especially calcium and magnesium, but simply drinking the water provides the same minerals.


  1. ^ " pagophagia at The Free Dictionary
  2. ^ Parry-Jones, B. (August 1993). "Pagophagia, or compulsive ice consumption: a historical perspective". Psychol Med. Psychol Med. 22 (3): 561–71. doi:10.1017/s0033291700038022. PMID 1410082.
  3. ^ de Los Angeles L, de Tournemire R, Alvin P (February 2005). "Pagophagia: pica caused in an adolescent". Arch Pediatr. 12 (2): 215–7. doi:10.1016/j.arcped.2004.11.022. PMID 15694552.
  4. ^ Kushner RF, Gleason B, Shanta-Retelny V (September 2004). "Reemergence of pica following gastric bypass surgery for obesity: a new presentation of an old problem". J Am Diet Assoc. 104 (9): 1393–7. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2004.06.026. PMID 15354156.
  5. ^ Ilan Brat (January 30, 2008). "Chew This Over: Munchable Ice Sells Like Hot Cakes". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ Osman YM, Wali YA, Osman OM (March 2005). "Craving for ice and iron-deficiency anemia: a case series from Oman". Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 22 (2): 127–31. doi:10.1080/08880010590896486. PMID 15804997.
  7. ^ Mesa, Ruben, MD. Craving and chewing ice: A sign of Anemia?,
  8. ^ The American Dental Association. Chew on This: Crunching Ice Can Be Bad for Your Teeth., 19 July 2006.
  9. ^ a b Gavin, Mary L., MD. Pica. KidsHealth for Parents. December 2007.
  10. ^ Hadjadj ML, Martin F, Fichet D (May–Jun 1990). "Anemia caused by iron deficiency and pagophagia. Apropos of a case". Rev Méd Interne. 11 (3): 236–8. PMID 2096423.