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Brain Freeze 411

Have you ever chugged a bottle of ice-cold water, gulped a Slurpee or Icee, had a popsicle real fast, or quickly ate a bowl of ice cream and BAM you have a brain freeze? The scientific term is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. More like a big Ouch and 911 for you!

Unfortunately, in our family, Brain Freeze is a very common ailment!

Why does Brain Freeze Happen?

When you consume a cold treat, you shock your palate when the coldness hits the roof of your mouth and the back of your throat. The response your body has is to constrict blood vessels, which limits your blood supply, and then it does a fast reverse. All this sends a warning sign to your brain. That is why your body reacts with a distress reaction with pain in your head to get you to stop. It lasts either a few seconds or even a few minutes.

The fastest relief is drinking warm water, or you can press your tongue to the roof of your mouth (which is what I tell my kids every time it happens but I’m not sure if they believe me!). This process brings your mouth to an average temperature.

Brain freeze is a warning to your body to slow down. Eating or drinking cold foods by gulping or devouring quickly, especially in the hotter seasons, increases the chance that you will experience this phenomenon. Many people that are more susceptible to migraines seem to have this happen more often.

Moral of the story: Take your time when eating and drinking. Enjoy what you have. That will help you and your family avoid the brain freeze response by your body. Or chug and you know what to expect!