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Am I anemic or just odd?
September 9, 2010 5:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm obsessed with chewing ice but not tired...could I still be anemic?

About three months ago, I developed a sudden craving for chewing ice. It started with chewing the ice left over in my water glass or iced coffee, but has now evolved to the point where I will buy a fountain drink for the purpose of chewing ice, or just get a cup of ice from the freezer. I would say I chew about five cups of ice a day.

On Google preview, it seems that this could be a symptom of anemia. However, I'm not unusually fatigued or exhibiting any other symptoms that I know of. I know that YANMD, and I'm considering getting a blood test, but just curious...has anyone else had a similar experience? Is it possible that I could be anemic if this is really the only symptom? Or have I just developed an odd/annoying craving for some other random reason?
posted by mingodingo to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I like chewing ice but I've never been told that I am anemic, and I've donated blood within the past 6 months...
posted by dfriedman at 5:47 PM on September 9, 2010


I'm going to answer your question sideways, since I know nothing about anemia: chewing ice damages your teeth.

I know this because that's in part how I quit smoking. And my dentist was, like, "What the hell have you been doing? Your mouth looks like an accident."

She showed me with a magnifying mirror all the hairline enamel cracks.

Never again.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:58 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was an ice chewer par excellence for years. I was anemic, but I didn't suffer from any of the traditional 'anemic symptoms'. Now that I am not iron deficient anymore, my desire to chew ice has completely disappeared. I figure you can go two ways with this: 1) start taking iron and see if your desire diminishes; or 2) go get a blood test to determine if you are anemic.
posted by msali at 6:04 PM on September 9, 2010


Yes, you might still be anemic. Or you might just like to chew ice. Five cups a day all of the sudden is kind of a lot, though...just mention it to your doctor the next time you go in. If you have any other symptoms of anemia, particularly light-headedness or dizziness when you stand up or bloody or black stool, see your doctor immediately.

IANYD, TINMA.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:10 PM on September 9, 2010


Oh dear. I could have written this. I eat a lot of ice. I especially love softer textured ice...like the crushed pellet-y ice.
I've never thought of it being related to anemia, but rather some form of pica.
Also, I'm starting to get hot flashes. It helps cool me down a lot.
posted by littleflowers at 6:15 PM on September 9, 2010


Please just go get tested. Especially if the chewing ice is a new thing. This winter, I suddenly found myself absolutely overcome by the compulsion to chew ice. I finally, after a few months, went and got a blood test and, sure enough, severe anemia. Actually, if my levels had been any lower, they would have needed to do a transfusion!

And you know, even if you don't feel especially tired, you might still be anemic. I didn't fully realize how low my energy levels had gotten until I started taking lots of iron and started having a lot more energy.
posted by lunasol at 6:22 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and this:

About three months ago, I developed a sudden craving for chewing ice. It started with chewing the ice left over in my water glass or iced coffee, but has now evolved to the point where I will buy a fountain drink for the purpose of chewing ice, or just get a cup of ice from the freezer. I would say I chew about five cups of ice a day.

Describes me to a T when I was at the height of my anemia: the sudden craving, the buying fountain drinks for the ice, the five cups a day. In addition to damaging my teeth, I developed a two-month chronic cough!
posted by lunasol at 6:24 PM on September 9, 2010


I craved ice constantly when I was pregnant. I also would go buy a fountain soda and fill the cup with just ice. I wasn't anemic; I had been tested, plus I was already taking a prenatal vitamin and an iron supplement. After I had my twins, I have never craved ice again. My uninformed conclusion is that in addition to anemia, there could be a hormonal component to this craving. Either way, it might be worth getting some bloodwork done with your doctor to find out.
posted by Kim Reed at 6:32 PM on September 9, 2010


I was diagnosed as anemic about three months after I developed a huge craving for ice. The tiredness didn't appear until right before the diagnosis.

The anemia is slowly getting better, but I'm still chewing tons of ice.

I am worried about the state of my teeth so I either crush the ice beforehand so there's less serious chewing involved, or I get massive cups of ice at Jamba Juice or Sonic.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:41 PM on September 9, 2010


I never thought I was anaemic either until about a month and, a half after I started taking the pills for the anaemia I had.

I wouldn't just take iron because of how iron is measured helps determine what kind of deficiency you have (if you indeed are) along with other blood tests can help determine whether your just iron deficient, anaemic or, there is something else medically going on like liver or, kidney disease. It's worth going to a doctor about this.
posted by squeak at 6:52 PM on September 9, 2010


Ice chewing and anemia here, too. Lots of things changed all at once so it's hard for me to pick any one thing out, but the anemia getting better and the ice chewing going away were more or less simultaneous. And I didn't have tiredness, either: they found the anemia when looking for totally different things. It's sort of weird, though: I chewed ice compulsively (not five cups a day!) from age 9 to 28. No one mentioned anemia until the end of that period, and it was literally a "oh, we did this CBC thing and hey, check it out, you're pretty freaking anemic!" deal.

Now I can't stand to chew ice and sometimes reflect on how odd it was that I was so into it for so long.
posted by SMPA at 7:00 PM on September 9, 2010


Nthing the go-get-a-blood-test advice. My experience was like that of lunasol and others: found myself chewing ice obsessively, and soon after got that call from the doctor saying I was treading into need-a-blood-transfusion-now territory. Good luck.
posted by schweik at 7:10 PM on September 9, 2010


Nthing others, you may be anemic; there are tests for it.

Do not regularly chew ice unless you hate your death and want them to die. There are few habits more destructive to teeth.
posted by smoke at 8:00 PM on September 9, 2010


death = teeth. I don't know what is wrong with me today!
posted by smoke at 8:18 PM on September 9, 2010


I did not know chewing ice was anemia related. That explains my cravings. I love ice when it is going soft/slushy. I wonder why the two are related. Must go to the google now...
posted by sandraregina at 8:49 PM on September 9, 2010


Get checked, I chewed ice for years. Doctors said I was anemic, but they never really pursued it, so neither did I. Finally one doctor said if I were anymore anemic I would be hospitalized. I went on mega doses of iron (including shots), the anemia (and much of the tiredness) went away, and so did the ice craving.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 11:23 PM on September 9, 2010


Doctors said I was anemic, but they never really pursued it, so neither did I.

it's sick for doctors to let you be anemic for years. That is criminally negligent.
posted by serena15221 at 12:20 PM on September 10, 2010


Yeah, I never felt tired when I was anemic either, but craved ice like you wouldn't believe, and as soon as the anemia was treated the craving went away completely.
posted by MsMolly at 1:33 PM on September 10, 2010


Hm. I love chewing ice. I also have grooves running along the length of my fingernails. And I'm kind of exhausted after work.

Shit. Might be anemic.
posted by flippant at 9:40 AM on September 11, 2010


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