You’re wolfing down your favorite flavor of ice cream and all of a sudden it hits — the infamous, excruciatingly painful ice cream headache, more popularly known as a “brain freeze.”
Scientifically known as “sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia,” a brain freeze is triggered within seconds of eating or drinking cold foods and liquids, such as ice cream, snow cones, and milkshakes. This intense, piercing headache peaks within 30-60 seconds and generally subsides 10-20 seconds later, although in rare cases, it may last up to two to five minutes. Interestingly, studies show ice cream headaches only occur during hot — not cold — weather and affect approximately one third of the population.
What causes a brain freeze?
It seems that when cold food or drink touches the roof of your mouth, it cools a nerve center just above the palette. Thinking the brain is in danger of freezing, this nerve center overreacts by dilating blood vessels in the head in an attempt to warm your brain. The end result is one extreme headache.
Of course, at the moment of brain freeze, you don’t care what caused it. You just want to know how to stop it. So here’s the answer. For instant relief, simply press either your tongue or your thumb firmly to the roof of your mouth. Taking a couple sips of a warm beverage may also help stop the pain. To prevent further ice cream headaches, remember to slow down and savor every delectable spoonful or sip.
Now that you know this simple natural cure for a brain freeze, go ahead — fix your favorite frozen treat and dive in!