You’ve probably experienced it or at least watched someone writhe in pain after eating a cold treat too quickly. Brain freeze, also known as ice cream headache, has been the topic of interest for scientists at Harvard Medical School. They say that their research has shone light on what causes brain freeze and may pave the way to productive research for other types of headaches, like migraines.

The technical term for ice cream headache is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. It typically occurs after consuming ice cream, slushie, milkshake or some other very cold food or beverage. The pain is most likely to occur when the temperature outside is hot and the person eats the cold food quickly.

Scientists were able to trigger brain freeze in the study participants by asking them to drink cold water through a straw so that the water hit the roof of the mouth (upper palate). While the participants drank, the researchers monitored the blood flow in the participants’ brains. Researchers found that the sensation of brain freeze seems to occur when an artery in the brain expands quickly. When it constricts, the pain goes away.

So how do you avoid brain freeze pain? Eat cold treats and drinks slowly or avoid very cold things altogether. To help the pain to go away more quickly, drink a sip of room temperature or warm water.


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