How to Stop a Brain Freeze in Its Tracks


Photo by: AndyL


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 we’re eating or drinking something super-cold — which is actually called sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia in scientist speak — is our body’s 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 — that’s why we take our temperatures there,” Godwin said. “But drinking a cold beverage fast doesn’t 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 that’s getting to your palate.

Then, when you’ve got that brain freeze licked, go back to eating your ice cream — slowly!

Photo: iStock

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