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What Is Brain Freeze and Why Does It Happen?

By    |   Monday, 27 June 2016 05:44 PM

Brain freeze is a real medical condition and is associated with cold desserts, such as ice cream.

“Ice cream headache” was first discussed in print in 1939 to explain the occurrence of brain freeze. Though medical professionals have deliberated about this condition since the 1850s, it was only recently added as a formal condition in 1988 by the International Headache Society. The BBC reports brain freeze was called the “cold stimulus headache.”

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The scientific name for brain freeze is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. This term describes the short-term headache that occurs when an exceptionally cold food or beverage touches the back upper palate of the mouth, sending a sensation of nerve pain to the brain.

Medical News Today explains that brain freeze occurs when this transmission of nerve signals to the brain causes blood vessels to dilate and constrict in an attempt to warm the brain to keep it working properly. The rapid flow of warm blood is thought to cause the sudden pain upon cold stimulus. Pain normally subsides within several seconds of removing the stimulus.

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Researchers also have found that stimuli other than cold food and beverages can trigger brain freeze, according to the BBC. Activities such as ice skating and winter surfing require that a person breathe in cold air, which moves over the soft upper palate of the mouth, ultimately creating painful stimulation that leads to brain freeze.

Scientists explain that the brain does not like change, therefore, brain freeze pain is its attempt to prevent further change, says Science Daily. In other words, stop what you’re doing.

So how can brain freeze be prevented without giving up cold confections? The best way to stop the pain is to slow down or stop eating the cold food until brain freeze subsides. Medical experts also recommend keeping cold items away from the back upper palate, drinking something warm, or placing your warm tongue on the roof of the mouth to stop the cold stimulation.

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Brain freeze is a real medical condition and is associated with cold desserts, such as ice cream.
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Monday, 27 June 2016 05:44 PM
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