- by Dr Reginald Varadarajulu VSM
- 2 Shares
- Dec 09 2017
DO YOU SUFFER FROM BRAIN FREEZE?
You take that delicious ice cream in your mouth or that cold drink and suddenly your head begins to pound and pain radiates throughout your skull.
Brain freeze, scientifically called sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, or more commonly referred to as ice cream headache; is a cold stimulus headache. When a cold substance is introduced behind the nose and palate, you experience brain freeze. It’s not that your brain actually becomes frozen. Brain freeze happens when the bundle of nerves in the mouth sense cold elements and instantly sends a message to the brain, causing your arteries and blood muscles to react. This is why your head starts to throb.
BRAIN FREEZE AND MIGRAINE
Brain freeze is not harmful and not a worrisome neurological condition. However, it is linked to migraines and people who suffer from migraines tend to be more prone to brain freeze than one without the condition. Similarly, people who have suffered from previous head injuries are also more prone to cold stimulus headaches.
WHAT CAUSES BRAIN FREEZE?
Eating cold things is not the only reason behind brain freeze. Any cold stimulus can cause nerve pain, leading to brain freeze. There is no definite reason but various theories suggest different reasonings.
It can be a result of one or some of the following conditions:
- Cooling of the capillaries of the sinuses by a cold stimulus, resulting in vasoconstriction - a narrowing of the blood vessels.
- When severe cold hits the nerve on the roof of your mouth it causes referred pain. Referred pain is the pain that occurs in one part the body but is felt elsewhere.
- Extremely cold food temporarily changes blood flow to your brain, causing localized pressure and a brief headache.
- Cold-stimulus headaches are a defense mechanism technique that help protect the brain from temperature fluctuations and keep it warm.
Brain freeze is temporary and not a major health concern. It goes away in a while on its own. However, even though the sensation may not be serious but it is unpleasant. You can try some ways to minimise the risks of a brain freeze if you are prone to one.
- Drinking hot water to warm up your palate.
- Pressing the tongue to the roof of the mouth.
- Open your mouth and cover it with your hands and breathe rapidly to increase the flow of warm air to the palate.
- You can simply spit out the food if you experience brain freeze after taking in the first bite, scoop or sip.
- Tilt your head back for a while.
If you are prone to brain freeze, minimise the amount and frequency of the consumption of cold substances. You cannot avoid them completely so the advisable thing to do is to eat them slowly; especially the first bite as the brain may become overwhelmed with the sudden sensation. Another solution is to warm your food and not consume it cold.
However, if the headache is throbbing and persistent, it is better to consult a doctor and seek appropriate medical support.
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