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Ice Cream Headache (Brain Freeze)

What is an Ice Cream Headache?

More of an unpleasant quirk of our existence than a serious disease, many people experience these sudden, excruciating and brief headaches after ingesting something cold. Technically known as cold-stimulus headaches, an ice cream headache is set-off when an unusually cold substance passes over the palate and back of the throat. Typical triggers include blended icy drinks, popsicles, and ice cream, particularly when consumed rapidly on a warm day.

No one is quite sure what causes the actual pain, but it is thought that a combination of direct stimulation of temperature-sensitive nerves plus the cold’s effects on blood vessels running along the roof of the mouth. The pain, through a quirk of our anatomy, is not felt so much in the mouth as it is “referred” to other areas of the face - behind the eyes and nose, the forehead, etc. One study has suggested that migraine sufferers may be more susceptible to these headaches.


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