What Causes Mind Freeze—And How To Treatment It Quick


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As we’re formally within the thick of summer time, you may be making an attempt to chill off by chugging ice water, dipping into fro-yo, or sipping on a fruity slushy. However typically, the mind freeze that ensues may cause extra ache (within the type of a sudden, sharp headache) than achieve (through candy reduction from the depth of the blistering warmth). That stated, is there a strategy to cease mind freeze earlier than it has the prospect to settle in, or a hack that truly works to mitigate ache as quickly because it hits? Additionally, what causes mind freeze to start with?

Seeking intel and fast ideas, we reached out to Ashley Agan, MD, an otolaryngologist (aka ear, nostril, and throat physician, or ENT) with UT Southwestern Medical Middle.

What causes mind freeze?

“Mind freeze, often known as ice cream headache or chilly stimulus headache, is a fast, short-lasting ache over the entrance or sides of the pinnacle that’s introduced on by ingestion of chilly meals or drinks,” Dr. Agan begins. Its trigger has but to be totally understood, however she mentions that it’s doubtlessly triggered by the sudden tightening and enlargement of blood vessels.

“Mind freeze, often known as ice cream headache or chilly stimulus headache, is a fast, short-lasting ache over the entrance or sides of the pinnacle that’s introduced on by ingestion of chilly meals or drinks.”

“One speculation is that the sudden publicity to chilly triggers fast vasoconstriction—or narrowing of blood vessels—adopted by vasodilation, or widening of blood vessels,” Dr. Agan explains, activating ache receptors inside the blood vessel partitions within the course of. “This ache sign passes by the sensory nerve of the pinnacle and face, which interprets to the painful expertise that we acknowledge as mind freeze.”

Fortuitously, mind freeze is extra uncomfortable than it’s harmful. “Generally, it’s a very fast ache that dissipates in minutes,” Dr. Agan says. She notes that it’s quite common and tends to occur extra continuously in kids… although a few of us who can’t assist however quickly down a hefty serving of ice cream with the enthusiasm of a kid might be extra more likely to expertise mind freeze usually, as properly.

As well as, Dr. Agan mentions that individuals who endure from migraine complications could also be extra inclined to mind freeze. (Unusually sufficient, it seems that those that have persistent migraines might discover reduction by dunking their heads in chilly water reasonably than sipping on it.)

The best way to cease mind freeze in its tracks

There are some things you are able to do to restrict the severity of mind freeze and cease it rapidly as soon as it hits—and fortunate for us, none of them entails passing up frozen treats for good. In accordance with a 2019 assessment in Present Neurology and Neuroscience Studies, the severity, frequency, and latency of mind freeze is basically influenced by the scale of the uncovered space and the pace at which you devour a triggering meals or drink.

For example, downing a big bottle of ice-cold water is extra more likely to result in intense mind freeze in comparison with crunching on a small ice dice. With that in thoughts, Dr. Agan recommends having fun with chilly meals and bevs slowly—or no less than as slowly as you’ll be able to earlier than they soften—and maybe swapping ice water for H2O at room temperature.

One other hack that may do the trick and solely takes a little bit of persistence to make use of? “Maintain the substance within the entrance of your mouth for a number of seconds to heat it up earlier than swallowing it,” Dr. Agan says. Keep in mind: Much less icy temps means a decrease probability of experiencing ache, and thus a better probability of totally having fun with your fave chilly treats by summer time and past.

For those who discover that mind freeze nonetheless creeps up on you, Dr. Agan leaves us with a parting tip to mitigate the ache virtually immediately. “Take away the chilly set off and heat up the roof of the mouth by urgent your tongue or thumb to the roof of your mouth,” she advises, to reset to baseline.


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