Ice cream headaches, also called brain-freeze headaches, are triggered by being exposed to a freezing environment or ingesting cold substances that pass through the palate and the back of the throat. Whenever something extremely cold contacts the upper palate (roof of the mouth), it can lead to brain freeze. An individual may experience this if they eat something cold too quickly during very hot weather.
Key points about ice-cream headaches:
Cold-stimulus headaches or trigeminal headaches are other names for ice cream headaches. It is believed to be caused by rapid constriction of the blood vessels in the roof of the mouth (palate).
A common treatment involves warming the roof of the mouth to relieve the headache and prevent this rapid constriction. When you eat or drink something cold, such as ice cream or ice water, you may experience a short-term headache lasting a few seconds to a few minutes.
BRAIN FREEZE AND HEADACHES
Brain freeze is medically known as sphenopalatine ganglion neuralgia. This sensation may also be referred to as a cold-induced headache.
Sphenopalatine ganglion nerves around the trigeminal nerve are believed to be responsible for brain freeze. In addition to this, there are nerves within the nose that cause headache pain. A likely reason for their high sensitivity is to protect the brain.
Causes Of Cold-Induced Headaches
The sensation of a brain freeze is not limited to ice cream; any cold stimulus can cause nerve pain. Brain freeze is caused by:
- Vasoconstriction (a narrowing of the blood vessels) occurs when a cold stimulus cools the sinuses.
- A quick rewarming by something warm, like air, results in vasodilation (widening blood vessels).
- Brain freeze is due to rapid changes near the sensitive nerves in the palate.
- Nerve responses occur due to the proximity of nerves with high sensitivity and the extreme stimuli changes.
Who is at risk of getting ice cream headaches?
Anyone can get a brain freeze. Getting brain freeze could be more of a risk in children because they don’t know how to slow down when eating fun foods like ice pops. Brain freezes come and go quickly, unlike other headaches. In most cases, the attack lasts only a few seconds or two minutes. This condition resolves itself without the need for medication or rest.
Other headaches can cause other symptoms. For example, a migraine can make you feel sick to your stomach (nausea). Some headaches can make it hard to tolerate bright light or loud noise. A brain freeze does not cause any other symptoms.
Treatments For Cold Induced Headaches
The sensation is not serious but can be very unpleasant. Brain freeze treatments include:
- Drinking some warm water.
- Pushing the tongue to the roof of the mouth. The heat from your tongue will transfer heat and energy to your sinuses behind your nose, which will warm the nerve bundles that cause brain freeze. Keep your tongue firmly against the roof of your mouth until you feel the pain start to dissipate.
- Covering the mouth and nose with the hands and breathing quickly to provide warm air on the palate.
- A preventative cure reduces the cold stimuli on the palate, which means avoiding large amounts of cold food or drink at once.
Brain freeze usually does not cause serious health problems. Cold food, drinks, or inhaling something cold can trigger ice cream headaches, which are brief, stabbing headaches. In addition to eating or drinking ice cream cones, other frosty food and drink items can cause “brain freeze.” These headaches are also known as cold stimulus headaches, and they occur when your head becomes exposed to extremely cold temperatures, including diving into cold water.