Ice Cream Headaches: How they Happen

Why you have Ice Cream Headache?

Whether you call it brain freeze or an ice cream headache, it is no fun to experience. Here you are, enjoying a nice cold treat on a hot day, and the pain hits you out of nowhere. Have you ever wondered why this phenomenon happens and what it tells us about the human body? Let’s take a closer look.

According to Dr. Kris Rau of Kentucky (University of Louisville), understanding what happens during ice cream headaches will help us understand how the body reacts to damaging stimuli. The scientific term for ice cream headaches is sphenopalatine ganglion neuralgia. To understand how brain freeze occurs, imagine the body and brain as one huge computer.

As you begin to eat the ice cream, the massive amount of blood vessels and capillaries on the roof of your mouth, along with nerve fibers called nociceptors, detect the cold stimuli causing the blood vessels to constrict. The body reads this as pain because it happens so quickly. The trigeminal nerve (located in the face) then sends a signal to the brain. While the brain does not contain pain sensing fibers, the covering – called the meninges – does. The pain message finally registers at the top of your head, suddenly causing you to stop eating your ice cream long enough for it all to calm down.

More research is being conducted as there is a theory that this type of evidence may suggest a cure for migraines.

Helping Headaches Naturally

While ice cream headaches are temporary and self-inflicted, many people suffer from chronic tension headaches or even migraines. One form of care that can help with these headaches is upper cervical chiropractic care.

A misalignment in the bones of the upper neck can cause improper signals to be sent to the brain, thereby leading to headaches. By correcting the misalignment, communication can be restored, and headaches may become less intense or go away completely. To learn more, contact an upper cervical chiropractor near you.


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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.