What happens if you eat dirt?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “What happens if you eat dirt?”. We will also talk about the health complications that arise due to eating dirt.

What happens if you eat dirt?

Eating dirt by mistake is okay and would not cause many issues if ingested in a small amount. But if you ingest a big amount and experience signs and symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and a general sense of feeling unwell then you should probably visit a doctor.

It is also possible to get life-threatening tetanus by eating dirt. If you experience cramping of the jaws, headache, muscle tension, stiffness, and spasms in the stomach area then it is best to see a doctor and get treatment.

Eating dirt can also be an indication that the body is deficient in certain nutrients as well which makes you crave dirt. If you are craving dirt then it is best to consult with your doctor to find the root cause and get treatment.

Do people eat dirt on purpose? 

Some people eat dirt on purpose and they have different reasons for doing so. Here we discuss a few reasons for the craving to eat dirt.


Pica is a disorder where a person suffering can crave anything that is inedible such as dirt, clay, tree bark, chalk, and so on.

Pregnancy cravings

Women who are pregnant crave dirt and clays all over the world. During pregnancy, the cravings increase to a level where you would want to eat soil and dirt. Many believe that it may be because of iron deficiency or the need for more iron as it is a vital nutrient during pregnancy.

Nutrient deficiencies

Some people tend to eat dirt when they lack iron in their system. It is generally caused due to iron deficiency. Though eating dirt does not supplement the iron in the body, some people are drawn toward eating dirt.

Cultural beliefs

Many cultures around the globe have a belief system that eating dirt, soil, or clay can soothe the digestive system and heal certain health disorders such as ulcers, menstrual pain, and diarrhoea.

Are there any health complications of eating dirt?

Eating and craving for dirt can be an indication of certain health complications.


If you have an iron deficiency and may be suffering from anemia, you may be drawn toward eating dirt. Eating dirt would not supplement any iron in the system but is an indication of low iron content in the body. 

Pathogens ingestion

Eating dirt can come with different pathogens, bacteria, viruses, and parasites with the dirt inside the digestive tract which are surely going to cause health disorders. It is not really advised to use any kind of dirt as it is a suitable place for the pathogens to thrive.

Heavy metals poisoning 

Soil and dirt can contain various heavy metals such as potassium and lead which if ingested can cause different health complications such as an increased risk of cardiac arrhythmia or heart attack.


As dirt, soil, and clay are not processed by the digestive system, they can stay in the digestive tract and bind with the stool to make it hard to excrete feces. The obstruction of the digestive tract due to soil and dirt in the tract can cause constipation leading to other digestive tract related diseases.

Pregnancy complications  

It is very much common to crave dirt and soil during pregnancy but it has certain health complications of eating dirt as dirt has pathogens and bacteria in them which can cause digestive distress. Also, there is a risk of being affected by toxins and food-borne illnesses.

The eating of dirt can cause a higher risk to the unborn child and the mother due to all the toxins and pathogens present in dirt. The dirt can bind with the nutrients in the stomach and prevents the body and stomach lining from absorbing nutrients and minerals which can put the pregnancy at risk.

Are there any benefits to eating dirt?

There has not been much research on eating dirt and its positive benefits. The risk of eating dirt is more than the benefits of eating dirt. The adverse effects that come with eating soils undermine any other positive effects if there may be any. 

Eating dirt and soil should be discouraged by helping the person who is craving dirt by either talking to a therapist or munching or eating other food items when the craving starts.


In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “What happens if you eat dirt?”. We also talked about the health complications that arise due to eating dirt.

I hope you find this blog useful. If you have any questions, please let us know.




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