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The Chilling Truth About Brain Freeze

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Ever wonder why you get a cranium cramp every time you down a pint of Ben & Jerry's? Is it possible that your brain secretly hates the creamy goodness of Cherry Garcia? How can it say no to the refreshing zip of a Big Gulp? Read on for the 411 on the symptoms, cause and cures for the dreaded brain freeze.

Ouch! Why is My Brain Frozen?

When cold stuff (like popsicles, ice cream or slushies) touches the roof of your mouth it can set off a nerve reaction (in the spheno-palantine ganglion, to be precise), that causes the blood vessels in your brain to swell. When the blood vessels swell, you get a headache. The headache usually lasts less than a minute. Mystery solved.

Unfreeze My Brain Already!

So the question remains: how can you make the headache go away? The key is to warm the roof of your mouth back up, thereby constricting (narrowing) the blood vessels. The easiest thing to do is to press your tounge to the roof of your mouth. You can also try drinking warm water. In the future, try to eat your frozen treats slowly and give yourself breaks between bites to let your mouth warm up.

Frosty Facts

  • The term "brainfreeze" was registered by 7-Eleven in 1994.
  • Worldwide, the town that drinks the most Slurpees (7-Eleven's brand of slushies) is chilly Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada.
  • 13 year-old Maya Kaczorowski had her study, "Ice cream Evoked Headaches (ICE-H) Study: Randomized Trial of Accelerated Versus Cautious Ice Cream Eating Regimen," published in the British Medical Journal.
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