Everyone knows how a brain freeze feels like. You’re enjoying a nice big scoop of Ice Cream or jugged a nice cold drink and all of a sudden you receive a short and intense pain behind your forehead and your temples. However, your brain is not actually freezing. It really has to do with what is happening in your mouth.
What is Brain freeze?
Brain freeze, headaches caused by eating ice cream or drinking ice cold drinks are actually are quite common. The stabbing headache occurs just a few moments after consumption, becomes stronger and really painful for a short time, and then subsides just as quickly. After thirty seconds it’s all over.
Scientists have found that almost every second person suffers from brain freeze after consuming ice cream or other very cold foods “too quickly”. The colder the food and the faster it is consumed in large quantities, the more severe the headache can be.
What causes Brain freeze?
Our mouth, tongue, and throat contain many blood vessels that supply the face and brain with blood to supply nutrition and oxygen.
Within these blood vessels are tiny nerve-endings connected to one another and the brain through the trigeminal nerve, which allows you to feel sensation in your face.
In our mouth is where we feel the temperature of what we consume. When eating or drinking something cold too fast, this does not give your mouth enough time to absorb the cold really well. This rapidly changes the temperature in the back of your throat and at the roof of your mouth.
Many scientists believe that the sudden change in temperature causes the blood vessels in your mouth, on your tongue, and at the back of your throat to shrink, causing less blood to flow through. Therefore, reducing oxygen supply to the brain. Thus the sensation of pain occurs.
Pain Means Stop, Slow Down!
Our brain does not like changes and a brain freeze is a sign to stop you from doing that. Some scientists think that the trigeminal nerve reacts to these rapid changes in temperature and send a pain signal to the front of your brain. However, it is still unclear whether the nerve is actually responding to the cold or to the sudden reduction of blood and oxygen supply to the brain. Other scientists believe that the pain is caused because of a sudden rush of blood to the front of your head. Just after the vessels in your mouth and throat shrink from the cold, these same vessels instantly expand. This causes additional blood and oxygen to flow to these areas, increasing the amount of pressure in your head, thus causing pain.
Is a brain freeze dangerous?
Brain freeze is not dangerous. While the feeling may seem bad at first, the pain could actually be a good cause. The pain prevents you from eating your cold treat too fast or from completely eating it. This pain may protect your brain from losing its continuous supply of blood and oxygen.
If you’re worried about a brain freeze, try slowing down. In case you get one, take something warm to yourself or press your tongue to the roof of your mouth.