Brain freeze has a bewildering variety of names: ice cream headache, shakeache, freezie, cold headache, cold-stimulus headache, Frozen Brain Syndrome, and sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, its scientific name. Despite all these names, brain freeze only has one notorious effect: preventing you from enjoying that ice cream or Slurpee. You’ve endured it for so long, but is it possible to make brain freeze go away quickly?
What Causes Brain Freeze?
To understand how to get rid of brain freeze, you must first learn what causes it. When you eat or drink, the food or liquid touches your palate, or the roof of your mouth. If the food is too cold, its cold temperature will set off nerves that control how much blood flows into your head. These nerves then cause the blood vessels in your head to suddenly swell up, resulting in that infamous brief headache; so even though people call it “brain freeze,” nothing in the brain actually freezes. Brain freeze is a normal physical response and not dangerous in any way.
Getting Rid of Brain Freeze
Anything that’s cold can cause brain freeze: whether it’s cold soda, ice pops, juice, or even water. Brain freeze usually goes away on its own in less than five minutes, but why wait? Try the following tips and stop for brain freeze no more:
- Warm the food first on your tongue: You can’t prevent cold food from touching the roof of your mouth when you eat or drink. What you can do however, is to warm it a bit first on your tongue before letting it touch your palate. This technique warms the food and readies the nerves in your mouth for the cold substance that you’ll take in.
- Warm your palate: The basic trick in getting rid of brain freeze is to warm the roof of your mouth so that nerves don’t cause blood to surge into your brain. You can do this through the following methods:
- Touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth: Roll your tongue in a ball, and then press the bottom of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, specifically to the soft palate, which is at the back of your mouth behind the hard palate. The cold food usually just touches the top side of your tongue, so the underside is usually warmer. Apply extra pressure on the roof to make brain freeze go away faster.
- Drink something warm: Anything that’s hot or warm will get rid of your headache faster. You can go for a cup of hot chocolate or coffee. Some people also find that sipping room temperature water quickly gets rid of brain freeze.
- Press your thumb against your palate: This is just a variation of the tongue-on-the-palate technique, only you use your thumb instead of your tongue. People who use this technique claim that it gets rid of brain freeze almost instantly. Be careful though not to touch the palatine uvula or that “punching bag” at the back of your throat because this will trigger a gag reflex, spilling ice cream and causing more headaches to you and to everyone around.
- Form a mask with your hands, cover your nose and mouth, then breathe: Breathing quickly in this manner rapidly raises the temperature inside your mouth, relieving the headache.
- Brace yourself for it: For some people, expecting brain freeze and knowing that it will come and go on its own actually reduces its effect. The typical brain freeze goes away after about 30 to 60 seconds, so you can just wait it out, and then resume enjoying your frozen treat.
- Try warming up the food in front of your mouth before swallowing: Wait a few seconds after scooping up your ice cream, and then slowly put it into your mouth, so that its temperature slightly increases.
- Take a break: Sometimes, brain freeze doesn’t strike suddenly, and you can feel it coming. Take a break from your cold food for a minute or two once your head starts feeling funny. This way, your palate will warm up a bit, so you can enjoy the rest of your frozen dessert.
- Don’t hold the ice cream in your mouth: Some people hold the ice cream in their mouth when brain freeze strikes because of sudden pain. Don’t do this because it will cool your soft palate more, stretching out the duration of the headache.
- Hold your breath during a brain freeze: Some people say brain freeze goes away faster if you hold your breath when it strikes, although the science behind this is unclear.
- Press the area between your eyes and brow ridge: The brow ridge or brow bone is located above your eye sockets. When brain freeze starts, close your eyes, and then press your fingers gently between your brow ridge and your eyes. Breathe deeply while massaging this area, and the brain freeze should disappear quickly.
- Pinch your nose: Another unusual method that supposedly gets rid of brain freeze quickly involves pinching your nose with your thumb and forefinger. While doing this, blow air through your nose and mouth with your mouth slightly closed. Keep the pressure up inside your nose and mouth by continuing to blow until the brain freeze is gone. Some people claim that this method works, but explaining this technique scientifically is admittedly difficult.
- Inhale through your mouth and exhale through your nose: Air supposedly gets heated by the body on the way in when you inhale through the mouth and exhale through the nose. This helps warm the soft palate, reducing the duration of the brain freeze.
- Rub the back of your neck vigorously: The friction between the palm of your hand and the back of your neck should generate heat that eases blood flow in your head, making the duration of the headache shorter.
Some Weird Facts About People and Brain Freeze
- Some people actually enjoy brain freeze, and they don’t want to get rid of it.
- Some people believe that brain freeze headache can take away a real headache.
- Believe it or not, there are people who find brain freeze orgasmic.
- A study found out that frozen yogurt has more potential to induce brain freeze than dairy ice cream, cold drinks, or ice.
- It’s been estimated that one in three people experience brain freeze when eating ice cream.
- Some studies suggest that brain freeze is more common among people with migraines, while other studies show the opposite.
Chill out and slow down when you’re eating something cold. Lots of people get brain freeze because they hastily shove spoonfuls of ice cream into their mouths when they’re eating, which is not cool. Look at brain freeze as a sign that you should learn to eat more slowly and better appreciate the sweetness in the ice cream.
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