How to Prevent & Get Rid of Brain Freeze

Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

Most people have suffered at least one brain freeze in their lifetime. Want to know how to prevent and get rid of this painful condition? Be sure to check out this lesson!

Everyone has been there before. It's a hot summer day, and in order to try to cool yourself down, you decide to drink an ice-cold drink or eat some ice-cold ice cream. However, you end up drinking or eating too fast, which causes a pain to shoot through your head that is so painful that you have to close your eyes and grimace! Yes, everyone has suffered a brain freeze!

The official term for a brain freeze is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. Although a brain freeze is not a serious condition, only lasting a few seconds, it is actually listed in the official list of the International Classifications of Headache Disorders, classified as a ''cold-stimulus headache.''

When you eat or drink something very cold too quickly, the nerves located at the top, back of the mouth send nerve impulses to the brain that inform the brain that something very cold has entered the mouth and throat. The brain then sends signals to the blood vessels throughout the head to react, which then causes the brain freeze.

A brain freeze, officially called sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, occurs when you eat or drink something that is cold.
brain freeze

Preventing a Brain Freeze

The more quickly you eat or drink something cold, the more likely you will be to get a brain freeze. Therefore, eating and drinking more slowly can help prevent a brain freeze. For example, when you are eating a delicious bowl of ice cream, try to savor each bite instead of ravenously eating the entire bowl as quickly as you can.

Additionally, it is a good idea to try and keep cold foods at the front of your mouth while you are eating them. As mentioned previously, the nerves that send cold signals to the brain are located at the top, back of the mouth. Keeping cold foods at the front of the mouth as you chew them can help keep the cold sensations from reaching these nerves at the top, back of the mouth.

Stopping a Brain Freeze

There are a couple of ways to stop a brain freeze. One way is to raise your tongue up to the top of your mouth. Your tongue is very warm, and pressing it against the top of your mouth will help to warm the nerves located in this area of the mouth. Once these nerves are warmed, they will send signals to the brain that can help stop the symptoms associated with brain freezes.

Additionally, you can eat or drink something warm or hot immediately after eating something cold. For example, when you feel the first signs of a brain freeze, you can take a sip of hot coffee or tea to help alleviate the pain. Eating or drinking something warm or hot can also help prevent a brain freeze from occurring in the first place.

Consuming something warm, like hot tea, can help prevent and/or stop a brain freeze.
hot tea

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