January 24, 2011

Causes, Symptoms & Cure for Ice Cream Headaches

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Most of us suffer from ice cream headaches at some time or the other, without knowing that such an affliction even exists. Ice cream headaches can be described as brief, but stabbing and intense headaches, which occur after you eat something that is icy cold. Some people also describe ice cream headaches as “brain freeze effects”, which are a result of having ice cream, popsicles, slushy drinks and other similar frozen food. Fortunately, most ice cream headaches are very brief, that is, they are gone before a person can even think about doing or taking something for them. Even though the pain that is experienced during an ice cream headache is intense, these headaches are rarely serious. Therefore, it is not necessary to consult a doctor, for reducing such headaches. While anybody can suffer from ice cream headaches, people who suffer from migraine pain are more prone to them. People who have had a prior head injury are also more likely to experience ice cream headaches, as compared to the others.

What causes ice cream headaches?

When any cold substance, like ice cream, chilled water or even an ice cube, moves across the roof of your mouth and then down the back of your throat, it is possible for you to experience an ice cream headache. Most health experts are still not sure of what the exact mechanism is that triggers off this pain. However, there is a theory that foods or beverages that are very cold could alter the flow of blood to the brain, on a temporary basis, resulting in a brief, but bad headache. It is believed that the pain is actually felt in the mouth, which is then transferred to the head, through the trigeminal nerve, which is the main nerve that transmits all the sensory information, from the mouth and the face, to the brain. It is seen that ice cream headaches usually occur when you gulp down a cold drink, take a large bite or sip of something frozen or eat icy foods quickly.

Ice cream headache symptoms

It is important to bear in mind that not all headaches occurring after the consumption of something cold are ice cream headaches. There are a few symptoms of ice cream headaches, which is how people can identify what the problem is. Given below are some of the most common ice cream headache symptoms:

  • A stabbing and sharp pain, felt mainly in the area of the forehead
  • Peaking of the pain anywhere between 30 and 60 seconds after it starts
  • Alleviation of the pain, within five minutes, from when it started.

How to get rid of it?

There is no specific ice cream headache cure, as this condition hardly ever requires treatment. Normally, soon after the food or the drink that is causing the problem has been swallowed, the pain should subside. However, it is possible for you to get relief at a faster rate, if you try to warm the back of your mouth with your tongue. If your tongue has turned too cold too, you may just aggravate the problem by doing so and therefore, in this case, it may be best for you to sip a warm beverage.

How to prevent an ice cream headache?

Since there is no treatment for an ice cream headache, it is best to take the adequate measures for preventing them. It may not always be possible for people to avoid ice cold foods and beverages. Therefore, most people, who are prone to this problem, are advised to consume cold foods and beverages at a slower pace.