Imagine this: it’s a hot summer day and you’re craving something sweet and refreshing, so you stop at your local shaved ice shop. You pick out your favorite flavor and sit down to dig in. It’s so warm outside, and the flavored ice tastes so delicious and cool. After a few quick bites -- BAM! Brain freeze! That’ll slow you down for sure.

Brain Freeze

Have you ever wondered why we get a brain freeze? The scientific name for a brain freeze is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, and it’s also commonly called an “ice cream headache.” When something cold touches the roof of your mouth (the “C spot”), a nerve response causes the pain we feel with a brain freeze. The pain can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. In essence, a brain freeze is a very brief headache. Some researchers believe that we can learn more about headaches, including migraines, from studying the mechanisms by which brain freezes occur and also how they are relieved.

Speaking of relief, there are several theories on how to “treat” a brain freeze. Some people suggest drinking something warm. If you don’t have a warm drink nearby, you can try to push your tongue to the roof of your mouth in order to warm your upper palate. Another idea is to cover your nose and mouth with your hands and breathe quickly, causing warm air to flow through your mouth. Luckily, if none of those work, you won’t be in pain for too long since a brain freeze is usually fairly short-lived.

How can you avoid getting a brain freeze or an ice cream headache? Make sure you enjoy your snow cones, shaved ice, ice cream, and other cold treats slowly, especially on hot days. Also, try to keep cold items away from the roof of your mouth. Let cool foods and drinks sit on your tongue or use a spoon or straw angled away from the roof of your mouth.

So enjoy your shaved ice, but take your time! Savor each bite and maybe you can avoid the dreaded brain freeze. Have any other tips or tricks for avoiding or relieving brain freeze? Feel free to share them with us on our Facebook page.