Have you ever experienced an unpleasant feeling which involves a headache while you are having your favorite flavor of ice cream? The headache accompanying this sensation can last from a few seconds to a couple of minutes and most people identify it as the ice-cream headache! Doctors refer to it as brain freeze and the sudden onset of pain can make everyone regret about the extra scoops of the Belgium chocolate ice-cream.
Contrary to the popular opinion, ice-creams aren’t the only culprit behind that annoying headache; in fact, everything cold can be blamed for it!
Remember the shooting headache you experienced seconds later diving into the chilly pool? You must have dived headfirst in to pool which actually invited the brain freeze to creep in!
But why does a brain freeze happen and how can you get rid of it, if the pain lasts more than a few seconds?
What are the causes of a brain freeze?
You might be shocked to hear this, but scientists still haven’t managed to decipher the prime reason behind brain freeze and thus this section would be based on some of the findings.
As this type of headache lasts for a few seconds and goes away quickly, scientists induced this type of behavior in individuals to study their behavior.
During a particular study of such, participants were requested to drink ice cold water so that the researchers can study their blood flow and brain activity.
The theory of the researchers was somewhat like this; as a result of drinking chilled water, the brain gets cooled off and that is the reason, the blood flowing activity in the brain changes! The individuals sipped on ice cold water with a straw which allowed the water to hit the roof of the mouth and they were requested to continue the activity until they experience brain freeze. It was found that upon drinking icy liquids the blood flow only increases in the front row arteries and not the middle blood vessels and this probably contributes to the odd sensation.
But that is not it, the icy water also enhanced the resistance of the brain and the combined effect of increased resistance and blood flow causes sudden pain!
So is after chugging down a glassful of cold water, you are experiencing a sudden headache then always remember it is because your brain is trying to fight with the cold.
What are the ways in which you can treat a brain freeze?
Before delving deep into the treatment plans of a brain freeze, you should know how to prevent it altogether, because prevention is always better than cure even if it is just a headache! You can avoid brain freeze up to a large extent by eating frozen foods and drinking icy drinks slowly, as slowly as you can. You can also do better by placing the frozen food not towards the cold-sensitive roof of your mouth, but instead towards the front of your mouth.
While drinking juicy cocktails or smoothies, avoid using straws, no matter how much sophistication it owes to your personality! Because when we drink via a straw the coldness gets directly administered to the nerve which is responsible for generating pain.
The best way is to enjoy your favorite frozen foods with the aid of a spoon and then turning it down and licking the food from the surface, as this will reduce your chances of getting attacked with a brain freeze.
And another statutory warning-never ever try to eat ice-cream which is rock solid, no matter how much eager you are to let the flavors explode inside your mouth. Instead, warm it up a bit and then have it without any guilt!
What are the solutions of a brain freeze?
If in spite of following the above-mentioned measures you fall prey to a brain freeze then here are some solutions you can try:
Immediately warm the roof of your mouth by placing the tongue in that area
Tilt your head to the other side for at least 10 seconds.
Alternatively, cover your mouth and nose by making a mask with your hands and take quick breaths.
If all these failed to work out, then place your thumb against the roof of your mouth to warm it up.
Although a brain freeze doesn’t demand the care of a medical practitioner if you are experiencing frequent brain freezes then it is better to request the suggestion of a doctor.
And if this all fails, then stop consuming your favorite drinks and smoothies!
Emily Baldwin received her Master’s Degree from Morsani College of Medicine, practicing since 1999 in private practice in the Key West area. She now serves as a software manager focusing on health information exchange and collaboration markets. Also possess experience in transforming clinic operations through technology deployment and innovation, as well as offering diet, nutrition advice through her blog, and urine toxicology services for medical clients.