This Is Why You Get a Brain Freeze From Eating Ice Cream
Whether you’re a Ben and Jerry’s gal, a Friendly’s fan, or a die-hard Halo Top devotee, everyone’s favorite ice cream sometimes comes with a not-so-enjoyable side effect. Sometimes nicknamed an “ice cream headache,” brain freeze can put a damper on that otherwise delicious treat. Here’s how to avoid brain freeze once and for all, so you can get back to enjoying those tasty treats.
Why do you get a brain freeze in the first place?
Ever wondered why you get it? Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, the scientific name for the sensation, happens when your blood vessels constrict in reaction to the cold dessert. Your brain is responding to the temperature change by increasing blood flow to the area, which causes the headache-type feeling.
“When the vessels shrink and dilate like that, the nerves next to it try to send signals up to your brain saying the vessels are really dilating—something’s happening inside our mouths,” Dr. Jessica Heiring, a headache specialist at the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. This leads to a “referred pain” in other parts of the face before your brain realizes that the cold is only in your mouth, and not in the rest of your face.
Fortunately, the uncomfortable feeling tends to only last for a few seconds, although it can last for several minutes if you’re unlucky. Want to avoid that pesky ice cream headache in the first place? There are some tips that could help.
How do you avoid brain freeze?
Dr. Jorge Serrador of Harvard Medical School talked to NBC News about how to avoid brain freeze. And there’s a pretty simple method for getting rid of the painful feeling.
Putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth should do the trick, as it will warm your palate back up. If you can curl your tongue, that’s even better, he told the outlet. So if you can, don’t be afraid to stick the bottom of your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
Another simple trick is to eat or drink cold foods more slowly so that you don’t overwhelm your brain with a sudden temperature change.
Next time you enjoy an ice-cold drink or a scoop of ice cream, give these tricks a try. You might be able to stop brain freeze in its tracks, so you can go back to enjoying that tasty treat in peace.