As we start to move towards summer enjoying our favorite shakes and cones and then… Wham! What is that pain behind my eyes when eating ice cream?
Sphenopalatine ganglione uralgig or cold stimulus headache, more commonly known as “ Brain freeze”.
It is a short term headache typically linked to the rapid consumption of ice cream, ice pops or very cold drinks. Brain freeze happens when you put something to cold into your mouth, your body begins to regulate temperature by warming itself back up and starts a cascade of reactions. The body expands the blood vessels in the mouth, pushing blood to the area to heat it up. The rapid change in blood vessel size and blood flow here is what causes pain. It is not just the vessels around the mouth. Other vessels in surrounding areas also grow and shrink in response, including areas such as the forehead, behind the eyes in the Meninges (The area between the skull and the brain).
All of these areas transmit pain signals to the brain through the trigeminal nerve, (the fifth Cranial nerve), responsible for sensation in the face and motor functions such as biting and chewing.
You can prevent brain freeze from happening in the first place by eating or drinking your delicious treat slowly, so the nerves in your palate aren’t overwhelmed with the cold sensation.
If you feel “brain freeze” coming on just drink warm (not hot) water slowly, the warm water will mitigate the cold sensation in your head shouldn’t throb for as long or as intensely.