Brain Freeze! Help!

brain freeze

That dreaded pain that comes with the first swallow of something frozen – ice cream or a frozen drink of some type – – YIKES.

What causes this fleeting, severe headache, is it harmful and how can you keep it from happening?

“Brain freeze” (it’s technical name is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia), also called ice-cream headache, results when something very cold touches the back of the palate (roof of your mouth).  It typically occurs on a hot day when you consume something very cold, very quickly.

Scientists don’t fully understand why it happens but they believe it is caused by a dramatic and sudden increase in blood flow through the brain’s anterior cerebral artery. This occurs in response to a rapid change of temperature in the back of your throat.  The brain doesn’t like change so to counteract that cold, the body immediately opens wide the artery to warm the blood.  The brain perceives this action as pain; when the artery constricts again, usually after 10 or 15 seconds, the pain ceases.

Is it serious?  Not usually.  If you experience additional symptoms, such as irregular heartbeat, see your doctor just to make sure.

How do you get it to stop?  There are a couple of things to try.  First, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth to warm it up – do this just as soon as you feel the pain start.  Oh, and immediately stop drinking the cold product!!  You can also consume very cold items more slowly and/or drink sips of a warmer drink between sips of the cold beverage.  Trying not to allow the cold to come in contact with the roof of your mouth for long is helpful.

This is a cool video:

Oh, and cats get it too:



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