Experts Explain Why We Get Brain Freeze

Dr. Jen Caudle, a board-certified physician, said that eating or drinking something too hard too fast can cause intense pain behind the forehead and in the temples. It is sometimes called brain freeze, whereas some call it an ice cream headache. It is also known as sphenopalatine ganglion neuralgia or cold stimulus headache.

When we breathe in cold air, we can also experience brain freeze. However, ice cream isn’t the only trigger. Researchers suggest drinking ice water may cause more frequent and intense brain freeze episodes than eating ice cubes.

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Here’s why we get brain freeze.

How Does Brain Freeze Occur?

It is still unclear why we experience brain freeze when we breathe cold air or drink cold drinks.

Neurologist Catherine Ham said that brain freeze is the body’s reaction to cold triggers to warm up our mouths quickly. She explains that the body opens blood vessels in the mouth to increase blood flow. Caudle also says, “the brain doesn’t feel pain.”. You feel pain from a layer of receptor cells in the brain’s outer covering called the meninges.

What Can You Do To Ease Brain Freeze?

“Brain freeze usually stops seconds to a couple of minutes after avoiding the cold stimulus,” points out Ham. The mouth can warm up more quickly if you rub your tongue over the roof of your mouth or breathe into your hands.”

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What Can You Do To Prevent It?

Be careful when drinking and eating cold beverages. “The faster you consume cold substances, the more likely you are to experience a brain freeze,” Ham says. Brain freeze does not only affect humans. The theory is that cats can suffer from a brain freeze when they eat cold treats too quickly, said Ham.

Does Brain Freeze Ever Indicate A Severe Condition?

“Unusually, a typical brain freeze headache would be a sign of a serious condition,” Ham says. If a headache or brain freeze lasts for more than a few minutes or without a clear trigger, seek medical attention. You should seek medical attention if you have headaches associated with vision or speech changes.