What causes an ice cream headache?

It would take a simple experiment to prove, once and for all, what causes "brain freeze". Unfortunately/fortunately the condition isn't particularly serious, so nobody has ever gotten a grant to perform that simple study.

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  1. Well the suggestion that it is caused by vasoconstriction "like a migraine" neatly ignores that migraines are caused by VASODILATION not vasoconstriction. If ice cream can constrict these blood vessels it should improve a migraine.

  2. Are you kidding? Big Icecream will pay anything to suppress these studies!!!

  3. I bet you eat your frozen treats like a civilized, dignified human being. There's your problem. You've got to inhale that Rocky Road.

  4. I hesitate to do this, because it is potentially dangerous... but being the irresponsible summer camp counselors that we were, we "taught" our teenage campers how to give themselves "brain-freeze." It's quite simple, stop reading now, if you don't want to know. Simply hold the cold whatever in your mouth and breathe out your nose. Voila: Excruciating pain. I hope this helps in future studies.

  5. Indeed, I improved a migraine while camping once by sticking my head under a faucet running ice cold water. When I eat ice cream too fast I feel it in my chest not my head, but it is excruciating. It might be related to my having Central Pain Syndrome; I don't know. But I was struck, in the article, when they compared ice cream headaches to migraines--because the cold constricts blood vessels--because the pain from a migraine is caused by the exact opposite--the blood vessels in the head expand and press on nerves. Things that cause vasoconstriction--like caffeine--improve migraine pain, not cause it. The only reason caffeine is bad for migraine sufferers is because withdrawal from it causes vasodilation and complicates migraine. In the good old days before imitrex and related drugs many migraine medications contained caffeine.

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