Why Brain Freeze Happens And How To Avoid It


Photo: Flickr/dno1967b

We have all experienced the pain that comes with downing frozen treats, like an ICEE or ice cream too fast. Brain freeze is just awful, so read on for tips on how to put the brakes on it.New research has found why brain freezes happen, which can benefit people suffering from other types of headaches such as migraines.

A recent study on brain freeze, published in April in the journal FASEB, began through migraine research. Studies have shown that people who suffer from migraines are more likely to get brain freeze — the two may be related and have a common cause.

This was great for migraine research because a brain freeze is easier to produce, monitor, and study under controlled conditions. Researchers monitored the blood flow of 13 volunteers after drinking ice water and giving themselves a brain freeze. They found increased blood flow to the brain, which increases pressure on the brain, which causes the pain of a brain freeze.

The brain is a sensitive organ that wants to stay at a constant temperature. When nerves in your palette detect cold temperature, warm blood rushes to your head to avoid a temperature change in the brain. Migraines may work in a similar way, blood may rush to the brain and cause pain. A drug that slows blood flow to the brain may help people suffering from migraines.

K. Aleisha Fetters, of MSNBC’s The Body Odd talked to study researcher Jorge Serrador, of Harvard Medical School, who suggested these methods to warm up your palette and prevent or cure your ice-cream headache:

  1. Slow down and allow your palette to get warm again.
  2. Fold your tongue over, warming your palette with the bottom of your tongue.
  3. Pretend like you are cold and blow on your hands as if trying to make them warm. This warm air will warm up the palette.

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