In this hot summer weather, there's nothing that hits the spot more than a nice cool ice cream cone! Whenever my family and I go out for this tasty treat, my dad never fails to complain of the dreaded brain freeze, while my mom and I are usually fine. So what causes brain freeze, and why do some people suffer from it while others don't? I was curious, myself, so I decided to check it out.
Brain freeze occurs when something cold, like ice cream or popsicles, hits the roof of your mouth, and is more likely to occur in hot weather. The extreme change of temperature causes an increase of blood flow to what's called the "anterior cerebral artery" in your brain in order to conserve heat, causing the fleeting headache that you feel. As the blood flow starts to return to normal and the artery constricts, the brain freeze starts to subside.
The reason everyone experiences differences in the level of brain freeze they feel or, for some, not at all, seems to be just a matter of the individual's response to temperature change. Those who display more of an extreme response to a thermal stimulus will, in turn, get more severe ice cream headaches, which is also a characteristic of many migraine sufferers. However people, such as myself, who don't show such a drastic response to temperature change, are less likely to suffer from brain freeze.
Aside from scarfing down 2 gallons of ice cream, another good indicator of your body's level of vascular response to temperature change is how quickly your hands cool down in the wintertime. If your hands are able to stay warm for a longer period of time, you probably aren't as likely to experience brain freeze. However, those whose hands seem to cool down faster will mostly likely also get those nasty short term headaches due to their bodies' extreme vascular fluctuations.
For those who do suffer from brain freeze, a good way to prevent them is to eat your cold treats slowly, giving your mouth a little time in between each bite to warm back up. Although if you do happen to catch yourself in the middle of one of those splitting headaches, the easiest fix is to warm back up by pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth or taking a drink of warm water.
Do you suffer from the dreaded brain freeze, or can you overcome the frosty fiend? See how you compare to others by commenting in the BBS!
Author's Note: Sources: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/244458.php