Brain Freeze… What the heck is it?

Okay so I am sitting down having a bowl of Caramel ice cream and I’m wondering… what the heck am I going to write about tonight? It’s raining out, all’s quiet on the western front, and the Hab’s beat the Lightning in OT in tonight’s first playoff game of 2014… Ah life is good…But what to write about… Then suddenly it happens…brain freeze…Ah I hate brain freeze…It’s like sometimes no matter how slowly I eat it I often get a brain freeze. So what the heck…Now I have something to write about… But first it’s time to do some research… Be back in an hour… or so…

Okay after much research here we go…

Most people have experienced the dreaded ice cream headache at some point. You are minding your own business, eating something like an ice cream cone, a milk shake, a Slurpee, a snow cone… Then, suddenly you are hit with the most excruciating headache! Fortunately it only lasts for about 30 seconds.

So where does this headache come from?

While many theories on what exactly causes ice cream headaches or “brain freezes” have existed for some time, it has only been very recently that it was discovered exactly what is going on here.  It turns out, ice cream headaches are a result of a rapid change in the size of blood vessels as a response to an extreme shift in temperature in the roof of the mouth, particularly the back of the roof of the mouth.

Specifically, what is happening here is that when you stick something extremely cold in your mouth and eat it quickly, such as drinking an ice cold beverage or eating ice cream rapidly, it rapidly cools the palate of your mouth.  Why this is significant is that there is a nerve center located just above the back of the roof of your mouth.  This nerve center includes nerve clusters that send signals to the brain about changes in body temperature.  When these nerve clusters are rapidly cooled by what you are consuming, they are over stimulated and send the message to the brain that the body just lost a severe amount of heat.  This ends up resulting in the rapid contraction of blood vessels in your head.

Shortly thereafter, the temperature at the palate of your mouth goes back to normal and the nerve centers signal everything is fine and the blood vessels end up rapidly dilating.  This all can happen in a matter of a few seconds, but the end result of this rapid contraction and dilation of blood vessels is an extreme, sharp pain, often in your temples, forehead, or sometimes even in your face itself.

This ends up creating a very similar pulsing sensation that many people experience when they get true migraine headaches.  Migraine headaches can even be induced by cold temperatures in some people, leading some researches to believe there is a close connection between what is happening during certain types of migraine headaches and what is happening during an ice-cream headache.

Okay I am going to get really deep now and offer you some remedies to stop the brain freeze…

Slow down!!! That’s my solution.

Thanks for stopping by…Peace

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