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Why Do Brain Freezes Hurt So Bad

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What Exactly Is Brain Freeze

Why Does a Brainfreeze Hurt So Much?

No, your brain doesn’t actually become frozen. Brain freeze happens when a cold substance, like ice cream, is introduced behind the nose and palate, Lauren Natbony, MD, a neurologist at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Health. When the bundle of nerves in this part of the mouth sense something cold, they send an instant message to the brain, causing arteries and blood vessels to react. As a result, your head starts to throb.

“The pain comes on soon after something cold has touched the palate and is typically referred to the forehead,” says Anne MacGregor, MD, a headache specialist at the Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry in the UK. The ache comes on fast, just as the cold temperature of your ice cream or drink hits those nerves. “It lasts just few seconds but sometimes minutes,” before fading away, says Dr. MacGregor.

By itself, brain freeze is harmless, and the phenomenon isn’t associated with any worrisome neurological conditions. However, it is linked to migraines. People who suffer from migraines tend to be more prone to brain freeze, says Dr. Natbony, because the same nerves in the palate are responsible for triggering both types of head pain.

Diagnosis Of Brain Fog

Brain Fog could be an emergency if the symptoms begin suddenly and worsen as time passes by. It would be wise to and let him decide about the further diagnostic tools.

The right doctor to deal with your cognitive functions and mental health is the neurologist. He can perform some neurological tests and nerve stimulation to check your ability to perceive and react to the external environment.

The most common diagnostic tools for neurologists are:

  • The electroencephalography, showing them how your brain works while you sleep and when you are awake.
  • The CT-Scan and MRI, is going to show your doctor if you had a head injury. It may also exclude the presence of a brain tumor responsible for brain fog.
  • Blood smears analysis to test if you have elevated cancer markers or hormone changes that lead to mental fatigue and cognitive disease.

Psychologistsand therapists are competent at diagnosing Brain Fog syndrome. They can ask you questions about your life and extract useful assumptions about the possibility to suffer from stress, anxiety, or even depression.

These experts follow specific protocols to diagnose Brain Fog and give you the right mental or physical treatment for your case. It is needless to visit a hospital to diagnose brain fog. It would be better to ask your doctor any further questions relevant to this situation, especially if you are under unbearable pain.

How To Lessen Brain Freeze

No one likes the feeling of a brain freeze headache, but some people are more prone to them. For example, if you have migraines, youre more likely to experience brain freeze. This is because they both occur in the same spot on the head.

If you end up with brain freeze, warming the palette will cause the headache to go away faster. Some ways you can do this are:

  • Drink warm water. This will remove the cold feeling from your mouth and replace it with warmth.
  • Remove the cold food. Dont keep eating your ice cream or drinking your slushy remove it so your palette can be exposed to warm air.
  • Press your thumb or tip of your finger against the roof of your mouth. This can help draw heat to your pallet and alleviate the cold feeling.

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How Does Brain Freeze Work

You take a bite of your creamy, delicious ice cream as you sit in the warm sun. It melts on your tongue, so you take another bite. Then another.

However, you end up eating your ice cream too quickly, and you soon find yourself having an ice cream headache. Your head feels dizzy, and youre having a hard time feeling your tongue.

Brain freeze happens to everyone, but whats the science behind it? Heres why you get brain freeze headaches whenever you quickly eat ice cream, popsicles, slushies, and cold drinks.

Does Brain Freeze Happen To Everyone

Why does ice cream give you brain freeze?

Not necessarily yep, there are brain freeze virgins out there!

Everyone has a trigeminal nerve, but not everyone experiences brain freeze. Some peoples trigeminal nerve are more sensitive than others. This means less cold temperatures and shorter durations of exposure can be enough to cause brain freeze for some people, but not others.

If you find yourself being nailed by a brain freeze, youre going to want to act as fast as the brain freeze itself and remove the cold food or drink ASAP this will stop or slow the nerves from contracting any further. Pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth or consuming something slightly warmer can help too. .

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Can You Get A Brain Freeze From A Cold Drink

My friends get a brain freeze. I get a LUNG FREEZE. The pain in my chest is so bad that it actually makes me bend over in agony. Yes, it hurts until it subsides. Needless to say, I dont drink very cold drinks anymore. I have never told my doctor about it, but Ive had good heathy checkups. Thanks for your Reply!

What Is The Freeze Response

The body is a pretty amazing thing. Both animals and humans possess the fight, flight, and freeze responses when it comes to dealing with fear and trauma. These responses are what allow us to instinctively assess and deal with dangerous situations.

Imagine that you are walking along and come upon a rattlesnake that is poised to strike. Your body senses the danger, and you respond by quickly moving away or fleeing from the angry snake. This assessment happens almost instantly and instincts take over to get you away from the danger. The same goes for the fight response. Exchange the snake for an angry person who you know you cant outrun. Your response may be to try to fight that person instead of trying to flee.

The freeze response is a little different. Fight and flight responses have one thing in common: hope. There is hope that one or the other will get you out of danger and fear and return you to your normal state of being. The freeze response kicks in when there is no hope of fighting off, or fleeing from, the dangerous situation. It is the response that causes some animals to play dead instead of running or fighting, and sometimes it works.

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Ways To Stop Brain Freeze

The next time you get a cold headache, try one of these methods to stop it in its tracks.

How to Stop Brain Freeze

  • Spit out the offending food. This is not very attractive, but neither is your scrunched-up brain freeze face!
  • Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth. The heat and pressure are sometimes enough to stop the pain.
  • Open your mouth and press your thumb on the roof of your mouth to warm it. Drink something warm to warm up your palate even room-temperature water can help.
  • Open your mouth and cover it with your hand. Then breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. This will help warm the inside of your mouth.
  • Some people get relief simply by tilting their head back for 10 to 20 seconds.
  • Perform the Valsalva maneuver. This is the same maneuver to pop your ears open after youve been flying. Close your mouth, pinch your nose shut, and blow air into your nose.

Does Your Brain Actually Freeze

Why Does Ice Cream Hurt My Head?

A brain freeze is a short, intense pain behind the forehead and temples that occurs after eating something cold too fast. If you get one, dont worry your brain isnt actually freezing. The sensation feels like its happening inside your skull, but it really has to do with whats going on in your mouth.

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How To Stop A Brain Freeze In Its Tracks


I scream, you scream and sometimes we all really scream while eating ice cream because brain freeze.

That sudden, short headache that hits right when were eating or drinking something super-cold which is actually called sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia in scientist speak is our bodys way of telling us to slow down, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center neuroscientist Dwayne Godwin, Ph.D., explained in a 2013 news release.

Our mouths are highly vascularized, including the tongue thats why we take our temperatures there, Godwin said. But drinking a cold beverage fast doesnt give the mouth time to absorb the cold very well.

The rapid change in temperature at the back of the throat where two arteries, one that sends blood to the brain and another that marks the beginning of brain tissue, meet prompts the arteries to dilate and contract. The sensation is interpreted as pain in the brain, which signals you to ease up on the speed-eating.

To halt a brain freeze in its tracks, put down the ice cream cone or cold drink tout de suite, press your tongue against the roof of your mouth, or sip a warmish drink to restore your mouth to a normal temperature. You can also cover your nose and mouth with your hands and breathe into them to warm the air thats getting to your palate.

Then, when youve got that brain freeze licked, go back to eating your ice cream slowly!

Why Do Brain Freezes Happen

While the pain typically only lasts about 30 seconds, brain freeze is actually a type of headache, believe it or not.

Theories abound as to what’s happening during a cold-stimulus headache, which is more colloquially called an “ice-cream headache.” One of the leading theories surrounding brain freeze involves how your blood vessels and nerves react to rapid shifts in temperature.

When you take a big sip of your slushie, the roof and back of your mouth go from their usual temperatures to ones that are much, much colder. In an effort to warm your mouth back up, your brain sends blood and plenty of it. This rush of blood requires blood vessels in the surrounding area to rapidly expand, which, in turn, initiates signals of pain. But why do you ultimately feel the pain in your forehead and not your mouth?

It’s thought that one of the most complex nerves in your brain, the trigeminal nerve, gets triggered during a brain freeze. Among other things, your trigeminal nerve controls sensation in your face. When this nerve is triggered during a brain freeze, a phenomenon called “referred pain” occurs where the place you feel the pain isn’t actually where the pain signal originated. In this case, although it’s still unclear why, your trigeminal nerve reads the pain as originating from your forehead and temples instead of your mouth.

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Headache That Feels Like Brain Freeze

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What Makes A Brain Freeze Hurt

Why Do We Get Brain Freeze?

Theres a lot we know about how a brain freeze works. Theres also a lot we dont know.

Just beneath the skin on your face is a network of blood vessels that supply the face and brain with blood. Blood contains many nutrients like oxygen, which is essential for your brain to function. Tangled up in this network of vessels are tiny nerve endings connected to one another and the brain through the trigeminal nerve. This nerve makes it possible for you to feel sensations in your face, including pain.

Scientists believe the blood vessels in the throat and mouth and the trigeminal nerve are central to what makes a brain freeze hurt. But they dont quite agree on which is more responsible for causing the pain.

Most agree that eating or drinking something cold, too quickly, rapidly lowers the temperature at the back of your throat and roof of your mouth. Many also agree this causes the tiny blood vessels in these areas to shrink, allowing less blood to pass through them. This reduces their ability to supply your brain with necessary oxygen in the blood. What happens next is a little blurry.

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Fun Facts About Brain Freeze

Here are some interesting facts you can use to impress your friends the next time they get a brain freeze.

Instead of laughing at them.

Brain Freeze Fact #1

Not everyone experiences ice cream headaches.

Its estimated that only about 30% of ice cream eaters experience them.

Brain Freeze Fact #2

The pain of a cold headache does not actually occur in your brain because your brain has no pain receptors.

Brain Freeze Fact #3

The Slurpee was invented by the convenience store chain 7-Eleven.

While they did not coin the term brain freeze, they did get a trademark for it.

Brain Freeze Fact #4

Anecdotally, the worst food for causing brain freeze is a Slurpee or similar frozen drink.

A budding young scientist wanted to know for sure which causes the worse brain freeze, Slurpees or ice cream.

So, he made finding out his California State Science Fair project.

He found that a Slurpee-induced headache starts sooner, lasts longer, and is more intense than an ice cream-induced headache.

Brain Freeze Fact #5

A brain freeze does not freeze your brain cells.

But if they ever did freeze, they would be ruptured by ice crystals and turn to mush.

Brain Freeze Fact #6

Frozen foods and drinks wont change the temperature of your brain.

But neurosurgeons often cool the brain substantially during brain surgery.

This stops blood circulation to and within the brain, allowing surgeons to operate more easily.

Brain Freeze Fact #7

This applies to cats as well.

Brain Freeze Fact #8

Watch the Video

Prevent Brain Freeze Next Time You Eat Or Drink

Of course, the easiest way to keep brain freeze from striking is to avoid consuming ice-cold food and beverages, says Dr. MacGregor. But in the summer, or on a sunny warm vacation, that’s not all that realisticor fun.

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So prevent brain freeze from happening in the first place by eating your ice cream very slowly, especially during that initial bite or lick, so the nerves in your palate aren’t overwhelmed with the cold sensation. Or try eating cold food toward the front of your mouth, which helps you avoid the sensitive nerve endings toward the back that trigger brain freeze, suggests Dr. Natbony.

If none of these solutions help, Dr. Natbony also advises that you heat your cold food to a warmer temperature before putting it in your mouth. So if you can handle a soupy, warm pint of rocky road, stick your bowl in the microwave for a couple of seconds before devouring it.

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The Scoop On Ice Cream Headache

What causes ice cream headaches? Nothing serious, says Wojtek Mydlarz, assistant professor of otolaryngologyhead and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins. He explains:

There are several theories about what makes this happen. The one that probably makes the most sense is that when you eat or drink a large quantity of very cold food or liquid, you drop the temperature of the palate pretty substantially. The blood vessels automatically constrictits a survival reflex to maintain your bodys core temperature.

After the squeeze, Mydlarz says, the blood vessels open up quickly. This rebound dilation sends a pain signal to the brain through a nerve called the trigeminal nerve, whose upper branch extends into the midface and forehead, he says.

Mydlarz says ice cream headache is an example of referred pain when changes happening in one part of the body signal pain in another. In this case, the tiny muscles around the blood vessels in the palate are tightening and relaxing suddenly, but the sensation is experienced higher up in the head

Everything You Need To Know About The Dreaded Brain Freeze

Why do You Get a Brain Freeze?

Everything You Need to Know About the Dreaded Brain Freeze

The day was as perfect as a childhood summer day could be.

All your friends joined you at the local watering hole, you played board games with your family and cooked burgers to enjoy as the sky turned from dusty pink to night blue. The only thing that could make the day better was to top it off with your favorite flavor of ice cream, slowly melting down the side of your ice cream cone.

As you try to eat the ice cream before it melts, the day suddenly turns for the worse. The pain hits you square in the head as you keel over in pain. It feels as though your brain is splitting in two and all you can do is grasp your forehead in an attempt to relieve the pain. As you come back from the depths of despair, you find everyone laughing thats when you hear the words brain freeze for the first time.

So, what is a brain freeze? Why does it seem to happen when eating delicious frozen treats? We researched these pressing questions and more to help your summer stay sunny.

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Can A Brain Freeze Be Harmful

If you begin feeling a brain freeze coming on, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The heat from your tongue will warm up the sinuses behind your nose and then warm the ganglion that caused the brain freeze, they said. Brain freezes are not dangerous and very self-limiting, Vertrees said.

Free Yourself From Brain Freeze This Summer

1 Minute Read

May 24, 2014

Everyones experienced it. You chomp into that huge scoop of ice cream or chug that frozen drink, and all of a sudden it hits you. The extreme stabbing pain in your head that feels like your brain might actually explode. Well, maybe not that bad. But it has been known to cause even the toughest of men to crumble in agony.

So to understand how to stop brain freeze, we first have to know what causes it. Warning here comes the science. When something cold touches the roof of your mouth, your blood vessels contract in order to prevent any loss of body heat. As you swallow your ice cream or finish your Slurpee, the cold recedes and the blood vessels go back to normal, which quickly increases blood flow to your brain. This sudden rush of blood is what causes that terrible, terrible pain.

To stop brain freeze before it starts, you can simply prevent anything cold from contacting the roof of your mouth. This isnt as hard as it sounds. Just let that ice cream warm on your tongue for a few seconds before you swallow. Those few seconds will provide the necessary warmth you need to avoid brain freeze.

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