How to Avoid Ice Cream Headaches (aka Brain Freeze)

As summer approaches, I could write about ways to avoid heat exhaustion, protecting yourself from the damaging rays of the sun or a plethora of other super-important potentially life-saving info. But that’s not what I’m gonna do. I’m going to get down to the REALLY important stuff. Life-altering tips for avoiding the pain and anguish of…

Brain Freeze

Yup. That’s some weighty stuff. But, let’s face it, it FEELS life threatening when you have it. And we’ve all been there. Even talking about it makes me squint my eyes and cringe.

When I came across this article, with its great information about WHY we get ice cream headaches and tips on how to avoid them, I decided I had to share this vital info. The tip to avoid it – eat ice cream more slowly – did not seem practical or attainable to me, but perhaps you are more disciplined than I. Thankfully, it also provides tips on how to fix brain freeze once you’ve inevitably gotten it because you DIDN’T eat slowly.

My personal Brain Freeze treatment technique is similar to the technique below. It includes not just putting your tongue against the roof of your mouth to warm it, but also rubbing it to create more friction and swearing loudly. For safety, I always use the International Sign for Brain Freeze – moaning loudly while clutching your head – so that others know what’s happening. What I didn’t know to do, was the head tipping thing. You can bet that will be part of my repertoire going forward. What is your method of dealing with brain freeze?

How to Avoid Ice Cream Headache

AlexG,, May, 18, 2015

You can’t make ice cream without ice, or at least cold. A home ice maker has a bin for ice and rock salt and an inner vessel that holds the mix. A little churning and you get ice cream. But what happens if you eat ice cream too fast? You get something called a brain freeze.

The technical term for this is a cold-stimulus headache. It can happen if you drink or eat too much of anything cold too quickly. Scientists believe that it happens when something cold passes quickly along the roof of the mouth. The blood vessels shrink in response to the cold, then expand rapidly after swallowing. This change triggers a nerve response.

Your cheeks turning red on a cold day is a similar response. The cold shrinks the vessels in your cheeks, your body warms up and they expand larger than usual. This turns them red. In the mouth, the pain receptors run along a major facial nerve. It’s the same one that makes you feel headaches in the forehead. That’s why it feels like a headache rather than a mouth ache.

The effect doesn’t last very long, but it can be very uncomfortable. How do you get rid of it? First, stop eating your ice cream or frozen drink so quickly. Press the tongue to the roof of your mouth and tilt your head back. That will bring the pallet back to the correct temperature. If you have a drink around that’s warmer than what caused the headache, that can help too.

If you really like cold iced drinks, enjoy them responsibly! Sip slowly and avoid the dreaded ice cream headache.

So I may not have saved you from heat stroke this Summer, but I just may have helped cure Brain Freeze. Your Summer just got better. You’re welcome.