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Why do we get brain freeze, and how can we stop it?

Why Do We Get Brain Freezes?

Brain freeze is so serious it has a scientific name: sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. You drink or eat something cold very fast and BOOM, your head feels like someone's trying to blow it up with their psychic powers.

So, why the heck do we get those awful brain freezes? Well, your mouth is highly vascularized, meaning there's a lot of important blood flow going through there. It makes sense since it's right there between your head and neck. Plus, two super important arteries are right in the back of your throat: the internal carotid artery, which is what gets blood to your brain, and the anterior cerebral artery, which sits right where your brain tissue starts.

So right there, in the back of your throat, is where your brain's getting all the stuff that's keeping it alive. And it's a pretty soft, vulnerable part of you.

When you eat something cold really quickly, all of a sudden the temperature in that part of your body drops. FAST. And those arteries contract really quickly, triggering receptors in your meninges, which is your brain's outer covering.

Your brain is basically alerting you to the fact that it thinks you're suddenly freezing it to death, even though it's just one spot on your body that's cold.

Neuroscientists actually really love to study brain freeze because it's the only controllable headache we have. They can't make someone have a migraine, but they can give them brain freeze then study what's happening in their brain and body and use that to treat other, more serious types of headaches.

By the way, if you've got brain freeze, the best thing you can do to get rid of it is to curl your tongue up into the back roof part of your mouth- that's that spongey bit that's the border to the arteries.

Your tongue will still be body temperature and you can use it to equal things out quickly.

Join the discussion

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lthrnck68 April 27 2014 at 6:10 AM

Ya eat it too fast, you get brain freeze.

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Lee Francis April 27 2014 at 10:25 AM

In order to get "brain freezw" you must first have a brain. lol

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Joanne April 27 2014 at 9:58 AM

I thought I was a freak! I never got an ice cream headache, but I do get that awful pain dead center in my torso just below the ribs!

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1 reply
zigzigsputnik Joanne April 27 2014 at 11:00 AM

I get that when I drink Sonic freezes.

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yuzzum1998 April 27 2014 at 8:24 AM

a quick drink of something warm helps too

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WatergirlHawaii April 27 2014 at 10:51 AM

I'm just happy they're using the info to help those who suffer headaches!

Personally, I rub my thumb (or warm spoon) on the roof of my mouth to warm it; a cold tongue doesn't do the job quickly enough for me!

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fordpowerstrokin April 27 2014 at 10:25 AM

Doesn't work. Tried it several times now.

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2 replies
racaneer fordpowerstrokin April 27 2014 at 11:09 AM

It works for me, everyone where I used to work did it and it worked for them. Put enough black pepper on it, you can't taste the pepper at all.

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Jason fordpowerstrokin April 27 2014 at 11:19 AM

are you serious, if you really believe this I have a bridge in Alaska to sell you. PUT DOWN THE PEPPER, trying to save your dignity.

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charlotteecigs April 27 2014 at 7:12 AM

I litterally found the cure for brain freeze...... all you do is take a sip of warm or room temp water or any drink and boom your brain freeze is instantly Gone

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smcmahon1949 April 27 2014 at 10:46 AM

a very interesting fact thank you for sharing

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Toray99 April 27 2014 at 9:59 AM

I must be strange because I actually like brain freeze. Especially after drinking a chocolate shake really fast at first...Oh yeah!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
hunkaburninlove April 27 2014 at 9:39 AM

7-ELEVEN should put this advisory on the front of their SLURPEE machine and on each of their SLURPEE cups....a public service announcement!

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