Gulp! Gulp! Youch!—What Causes Brain-Freeze?

It’s hot out and you’re sooo thirsty! You get yourself an ice, cold slushie and begin to slurp it back…then it happens: That instant intense pain in your forehead! Ouch! Read on to find out more from our Gurnee IL dentist Dr. Rule!

The Brain-Freeze

It’s often called brain-freeze, ice cream headache, or a cold-stimulus headache, but the actual scientific term is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. (Pronounced sfee no PAL uh teen gang lee oh nur AHL jee uh). Regardless of the name, if you’ve ever eaten ice cream quickly or eagerly chugged back an icy beverage, you know about that intense, unpleasant pain.

Brain-Freeze 1-0-1

A brain-freeze is a brief cranial pain—a short-term headache. Typically, the intense headache lasts around 20 seconds—though some experience longer lapses of pain. Brain-freeze is your body’s way of putting on the brakes and getting your attention right away, telling you to enjoy your icy beverage a little less energetically.

“What Causes a Brain-Freeze?” — by Gurnee IL Dentist Dr. Rule

Science Daily and Medical News Today shed some light on what is believed to go on behind the scenes during brain-freeze.

Brain-freeze occurs when something really cold touches the roof of your mouth. When you slurp a frigid drink or eat ice cream too fast it rapidly changes the temperature in the back of your throat. This is where your internal carotoid artery (responsible for feeding blood to your brain) and your anterior cerebral artery meet. When the cold hits, it causes a dilation and contraction of these arteries. Nerve endings that shoot into overdrive give you that sensation of PAIN, though as they stabilize the pain can disappear just as quickly.

Addressing Other Painful Conditions

The frequency with which you experience brain-freeze is entirely up to you. Avoiding icy cold beverages, or at least drinking them slower, are the easiest ways to prevent this brief, intense pain. Pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth may also offer some relief.

In any case, the next time you experience brain-freeze, impress your friends by informing them “no worries, it’s only sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.”

Unfortunately, some individuals experience chronic headaches, sore jaw muscles, or other oral health issues that are not solely brought on by cold, and don’t simply disappear in a matter of seconds. With high-tech computerized equipment and specialized training, our qualified experts can help you properly diagnose and effectively treat those serious conditions. Contact us today to learn more about how you can achieve the healthy, pain-free smile you’re looking for.

When you get brain-freeze, do you take it like a pro or lead those around you to believe you’re dying?

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