Are Ice Cream Headaches in Your Head?

Turns out “brain freeze” is a real medical condition.

As almost everyone can attest, eating ice cream too fast can be a bittersweet experience. One second, you’re hastily enjoying a tasty treat, and the next thing you know, you’re suddenly experiencing sharp head pain.

Turns out this phenomenon — which many people know as a “brain freeze” — is an actual medical condition. It’s called a “cold stimulus headache,” which is defined by pain in the middle of the forehead or behind the eyes and nose lasting for less than five minutes after rapidly consuming cold food or drink. The exact cause of these headaches isn’t known, but some scientists believe it’s due to the cold ice cream (or ice pop, milk shake, etc.) stimulating temperature-sensitive nerves as it passes over your palate or teeth. Thankfully, while ice cream headaches are uncomfortable, they rarely ever require treatment and subside quickly.

Migraine sufferers may want to take caution when devouring a scoop or two of their favorite frozen treat. While the findings are inconclusive, some researchers say migraine sufferers may be more susceptible to brain freeze, and that it can sometimes trigger a migraine in those already prone to them.

Luckily for ice cream lovers, these headaches may be avoided simply by eating ice cream and other cold foods more slowly — but you probably already knew that. If, however, you find that ice cream headaches may be triggering your migraines, talk to your doctor. And maybe consider a warmer treat — a hot fudge sundae, perhaps?



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