Pagophagia is the act of ingesting excessive amounts of ice cubes. Not many people know the term or the condition. A study initially appeared in JAMA in 1969 that discussed pagophagia and severe iron deficiency anemia.
Some of the symptoms of pagophagia and its variants are typically demonstrated by anemic patients. Not only do they engage in ice cube eating but they also put any new water bottles in the freezer and drink water when its ice cold. Others will go to fast food portals and order large iced teas or cokes with large amounts of added ice. Some prefer to sip on a glass that is filled with plain ice cubes.
In people with severe iron deficiency, esophageal mucosal changes occur and the esophageal discomfort can often be soothed down by intake of cold liquids.
It can thus be concluded that there is a high possibility that if there is pagophagia, it is accompanied with iron deficiently. If you come across such a patient, you could always inquire if they like to chew on ice cubes, eat the frost off their freezer shelves or drink very clod liquids. Pagophagia can thus be an important clue that the patient may in fact be bleeding and may be totally unaware of it. Even if there is no bleeding, pagophagia may also indicate upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy. In many patients, if iron is replaced, the ice craving generally stops.