What is Ice Cream Headache / Brain Freeze and How to Prevent it

I often experience this brain freeze when taking Slurpee from the store of 7-eleven. The Slurpee dispenser has a warning sign, “May cause brain freeze”. But, I still love the cold drink even if it causes headache most of the time, especially when sipping the straw too fast.

venezia gelato by marie rosanne cabuenaThe same brain freeze experience happens when eating other frozen foods like ice cream and gelato. This brain freeze phenomenon was explained by this article from HealthToday, October 2001 issue:

Dr. Robert Smith, finder of the Cincinnati Headache Center, found that the pain can be reproduce in hot weather by applying crushed ice to the palate ( the mouth roof ). This causes blood vessels to dilate producing a throbbing kind of pain. The same nerve picks up the sensation from the same dura matter, a membrane surrounding the brain – so the brain often interprets the signal as pain from you head.

Brain freeze can easily prevented by eating the frozen food slowly,  sipping cold drink slowly and biting the ice cream slowly.


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