Brain Freeze

Which affliction is known in the scientific community as "sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia?"

And the answer: brain freeze.


Also known as an ice cream headache, brain freeze occurs when you eat or drink something very cold, and then feel pain in your forehead or temples. To ease brain freeze, doctors say you can press your tongue against the roof of your mouth, or drink warm water.

Brain freeze is somewhat of a rite of passage when enjoying melty summer treats. While the sensation is unpleasant, it is harmless – the brain is actually unable to feel pain despite its millions of neurons. The sensation of brain freeze comes from a rapid changing in the temperature in the back of the throat, at the juncture of the internal carotid artery. This artery feeds blood to the brain, and the receptors in the outer coverings – called the meninges – dilate and contract as a result of the cold. Your brain perceives these changes as pain, thus the brain freeze.

Interestingly, these momentary freezes can help develop our understanding of headaches. Studying the dilation and contraction of the meninges provides helpful information about the way headache mechanisms work. Better yet, since brain freezes are felt momentarily, there are no long-term effects of the induced headache whatsoever.

If you experience a brain freeze, it's easy to solve. Simply remove the cold treat from your mouth, and press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Sipping warm drinks will also help solve the phantom headache.

And now, a joke.

What happens when you get brain freeze? I don't know about you, but iscream.

Learn more about the ice cream headache below.

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