'Brain freeze' is a real thing - here's what happens

- We're probably all familiar with the dreaded feeling -- a brain freeze. It's the radiating pain that temporarily stops any enjoyment of your chilly treat.

University of Michigan headache neurologist Dr. Wade Cooper calls them temperature sensitive flash-headaches, and they stem from the roof of your mouth.

"The same nerves that coordinate migraine are the same that coordinate temperature sensation to the roof of our mouth," he says. "So, if you take down an ice cream cone quickly and you make the roof of your mouth really cold, it activates the same nerves that migraines go through, and the same nerves other headache syndromes go through."

Those nerves send a message to the brain causing arteries and blood vessels to react. That's the intense throbbing pain you feel.

There is a solution, though.

It may be obvious, but, Dr. Cooper advises us to eat our cold foods more slowly.

"If you do have it, certainly warming the roof of your mouth will help the pain go away quicker. So, tongue on the roof of the mouth is one way to do it. Drinking a warm beverage could theoretically help too, but, usually, just slow down [eating] your ice cream," he says.
 

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