Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What causes “brain freeze?”

May 24, 2015

Indulgent Food Pillows | UncommonGoods

It’s happened to everyone who enjoys ice cream now and then (in other words, everyone): you’re enjoying a dollop of that frozen goodness when—WHAM! You find yourself enjoying a blinding headache along with your soft serve. The common term for this Dairy Queen discomfort is “brain freeze,” though doctors have a technical term for it: sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. Trying to pronounce that is enough to give you a headache, but “brain freeze” itself is caused by the cold stuff you’re eating causing rapid expansion and contraction of two major arteries near your palate—the internal carotid and the anterior cerebral. These blood vessels converge near your ice cream enjoyment centers (aka your mouth and your brain), and when they essentially start shivering with the arctic swirl you’ve introduced, you experience icy pain in various parts of your head or face. Think of it as a momentary neurological vacation to Siberia. Fortunately for us frozen treat lovers, there are a few simple remedies: 1) drink a quick warm water chaser, 2) stick your tongue on the roof of your mouth to warm up the area, 3) wait a few seconds and the pain will pass…kind of like the ice cream truck if you don’t hurry!

Indulgent Food Pillows, $65

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