Brain freeze, ice cream headache, freezie, or Frozen Brain Syndrome are terms used to describe a form of cranial pain or headache which people are known to sometimes experience after consuming cold beverages or foods such as ice cream, often as a result of rapid consumption.
The reaction is triggered by the cold substance consumed coming into contact with the roof of the mouth. It irritates nerves in the region (sphenopalatine ganglia), causing them to spasm. These nerves cause the blood vessels in the brain to dilate. When vessels in the brain dilate, a common effect is an acute headache (a similar effect occurs when one takes a prescription vasodilator, such as Nitroglycerin or Viagra).
It has been reported that the pain can be relieved by moving the tongue to the roof of the mouth, which will cause greater warmth in the region; it is also believed that the pain can be relieved by slowly sipping room temperature water. Laying the head to the side may also provide relief. The pain may be avoided in the first place simply by eating ice cream (or other cold foods or beverages) more slowly.
A report was submitted to the British Medical Journal on Brain Freeze; it focused on the effect of speed of consumption of ice cream on causing Brain Freeze. It was co-written by a Canadian grade 8 student (about 13 years old).
It has been estimated that 30% of the population experiences brain freeze.
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