Do You Ever Suffer From Brain Freeze? Here Are Its Causes And Prevention

Brain freeze, sometimes referred to as ice cream headache, is something many people dread. Yet it is something that many suffer from if they eat ice cream or drink a freezing cold drink too quickly. In fact, brain freeze is deemed a short duration headache. But do you know the causes of brain freeze or how it can be stopped?  

What Causes Brain Freeze?

Essentially, brain freeze is a type of headache that results from cold stimulus. It is usually when something cold makes contact with the palate or roof of the mouth that brain freeze sets in.

  1. When the abrupt temperature change hits the tissues, the nerves are stimulated to the extent they cause the blood vessels to dilate and swell rapidly.
  2. The body attempts to push blood to the affected area to restore warmth.
  3. Pain receptors are then triggered by the blood vessels, and prostaglandins (which cause pain) are released.
  4. Pain sensitivity is further increased resulting in inflammation, while the trigeminal nerve sends signals to the brain as a means of telling it there is a problematic situation.

While the trigeminal nerve recognizes face-related pain, the brain thinks the pain is emanating from the forehead. The term “referred pain” is used where the body interprets pain as coming from an area other than its real source.

Usually, brain freeze manifests itself around ten seconds after something cold has been placed in the mouth. It normally lasts for about twenty seconds but some patients report it lasting much longer. The pain can hit quickly and get very intense when nerve endings react suddenly.

Can You Prevent Brain Freeze?

Because it is a rapid cooling down followed by a warming up in the body that causes brain freeze, there are some ways to prevent it such as: 

  1. Sip a cold drink or eat an ice cream more slowly. 
  2. Warm up the roof of your mouth with your tongue after eating or drinking anything cold. This will ease any attack of brain freeze.
  3. It can help to tilt your head backwards for up to fifteen seconds to allow the flow of blood to even out and not rush so quickly to the affected area.
  4. Try drinking something that is warmer than the item that caused the problem in the first place.  


While it is irritating, brain freeze is not a serious condition. Some studies of the subject have shown that migraine patients are more prone to getting brain freeze. It may very well be that these findings will lead to new medicines being developed to treat the cause of this type of headache. If that happens, any new drug treatments could bring considerable relief to those who are susceptible to brain freeze.  For more information, talk to a dentist like those at  Centre Dentaire Benjamin Serfaty.

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