We’ve all done it: bitten into an ice cream cone with verve or slurped down an icy drink with speed for relief on a hot day only to feel an intense, sudden headache.
Brain freeze! We all know how to get it, but what causes it?
A group of scientists from Texas A&M University recently set out to figure this out. They found that brain freeze happens when a bundle of nerves located in the back of your palate comes in contact with extreme cold.
When the sphenolopalatine ganglioneuralgia is stimulated, it relays information that tells part of your brain to feel a headache. The bad news is that if you love eating popsicles as quickly as possible, it can be hard to avoid. The good news is that if you suffer from migraines, you may have found a fix.
“Many people will try to give themselves a brain freeze to try to break a migraine headache,” says Stephanie Vertrees, MD, headache specialist, neurologist and clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. “It may not work for everyone or work every time, but giving yourself a brain freeze can possibly alleviate a migraine.”
What if you have brain freeze and wish it would stop?
“If you begin feeling a brain freeze coming on, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth,” Vertrees says. “The heat from your tongue will warm up the sinuses behind your nose and then warm the ganglion that caused the brain freeze.”
Now, if science could just find a cure for this other human habit before winter comes.
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