Science/Tech

Brain Freeze: The Science Behind And How To Stop It

While scientists have never been able to fully explain the “brain freeze” phenomenon, the instantaneous and often-debilitating pain in the temples and forehead that comes after eating something frozen, a group of researchers have recently suggested that t
While scientists have never been able to fully explain the “brain freeze” phenomenon, the instantaneous and often-debilitating pain in the temples and forehead that comes after eating something frozen, a group of researchers have recently suggested that the “ice cream headache” may be caused by a sudden local change in blood flow to the brain. Romina Amato/Reuters

Imagine this. It’s a hot summer afternoon at the beach, and you’re sweating as much as the air is dull and sticky. You then start craving for a cold treat to help cool you down, and what better way to do that than the world’s favorite dessert, ice cream. So you visit the nearby concession stand and buy a cone for  yourself.

Perhaps you’re too excited, or just really need to cool down. Either way, you take a gigantic bite out of the frozen dessert. And before you know it, your brain starts hurting, inducing a cold and sudden headache. That feeling is called brain freeze. And no matter how many “awesome” phrases surfer dudes tell you about it, it is not a pleasant feeling.

But have you ever wondered why it happens?

It’s simple, really. Brain freeze, professionally called ‘cold-stimulus headache’ is a quick surge of pain that happens 30 seconds to a minute after you’ve suddenly been exposed to cold temperatures. Lasting from no more than a few seconds to minutes (in extreme cases), it can either cause a throbbing pain in your temple or an intense stabbing in your forehead.

Scientists however, are still in the grey as to why it happens. Of course, we know that the main trigger is sudden exposure to a very cold temperature. It occurs when cold food, air or water reaches the roof of your mouth, stimulating the various temperature-sensitive areas present within it. Of course, an all-too sudden increase in blood flow increases the anterior cerebral artery as well, which is located behind our eyes.

And while other scientists think this is what’s causing the throbbing, some are still not so sure.

So, do you need to give up ice cream? Of course not. We even wouldn’t wish that on our worst enemies. What doctors advise however, is to simply eat slowly and take your time, letting the nerves in your mouth slowly get used to the cold sensation.

In the case that it still comes up, warming up the roof of your mouth by pressing the tongue onto it should also help. But if it still comes on, then the best you can do is shout “brain freeze” and laugh about it afterwards, like those teens on TV.

While scientists have never been able to fully explain the “brain freeze” phenomenon, the instantaneous and often-debilitating pain in the temples and forehead that comes after eating something frozen, a group of researchers have recently suggested that t While scientists have never been able to fully explain the “brain freeze” phenomenon, the instantaneous and often-debilitating pain in the temples and forehead that comes after eating something frozen, a group of researchers have recently suggested that the “ice cream headache” may be caused by a sudden local change in blood flow to the brain. Romina Amato/Reuters

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