The cold truth about ice cream headaches
Ever had that painful headache when you eat or drink something really cold? Don't worry, it is not something serious and won't last long. It is just a temporary sensation known as an ice cream headache or a brain freeze. Typically, the pain from brain freeze is felt in the forehead or on both sides of the temples. Here's the science behind cold-induced headaches.
What causes it?
When you eat, drink, or breathe something super cold like freezing air, frozen drinks, ice cream, ice cubes, or ice pops, your body detects the extreme cold in your mouth or throat and tries to warm up. The blood vessels in your head expand to allow more blood for warmth. This sudden change in vessel size leads to a quick, sharp pain.
Why does it cause so much pain than other headaches?
When the blood vessels in the roof of your mouth expand suddenly, it creates a burst of activity in the nerve endings. Your brain interprets this strong activity as something important that needs immediate attention. In comparison, while regular headaches are also caused by changes in the size of our blood vessels, they are more gradual changes, hence the pain experienced is comparatively less.
Who is at risk?
An ice cream headache, sometimes also known as a cold-induced headache or cold stimulus headache, can affect anyone. However, children are more susceptible to experiencing this sensation because they often consume treats like ice creams without pauses. Some studies suggest that individuals who suffer from migraines are more likely to experience it. If you have a migraine trying these natural remedies can help you get relief.
Strategies to eliminate the pain
First of all, stop eating the cold item or move away from the cold environment immediately. Drink a warm or room-temperature liquid, avoiding extremely cold or hot beverages. To warm up and find relief, press your tongue or thumb against the roof of your mouth. Cover your mouth and nose with your hands, and breathe rapidly to increase warm air flow to the palate.
Preventive measures you can take
The only way to prevent the pain of ice cream headaches is to steer clear of sudden and extreme temperature changes in your mouth, throat, and head. So, when indulging in cold treats, like ice cream, it is advisable to consume them slowly and with caution. Additionally, using a scarf or face mask as a protective barrier against cold air can be beneficial.