This is how ice triggers brain freeze – and that helps against it

Everyone’s hot for ice. Unfortunately, it can cause brain freeze. We explain how brain freeze occurs and how to stop cold headaches

It’s a beautiful, super-hot day. You treat yourself to an ice cream, walk around with a waffle in your hand, lick a scoop of your favourite ice cream – and suddenly a flash of pain hits you in the head. What happened? In short: the sudden drop in temperature in the oral cavity stimulates the trigeminal nerve in the palate, which affects the blood supply to your brain. And then you like this:

The Brain Freeze Kid GIF from Brainfreeze GIF s

What happens in the brain freeze?

In simplified terms: The brain starts its antifreeze program. Your trigeminal nerve sends a command to dilate the blood vessel to the anterior cerebral artery. This immediately results in warm blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain. The decision centre there assumes that your body is immediately threatened by frost damage. Yes, really!

Make your own ice cream: These recipes will cool you down!

What happens when the brain freezes in the head?

The sudden increase in blood flow by 20 percent makes the surrounding tissue in the front part of the brain swell. This causes the brain cells to be pressed against the inside of the skull, activating pain receptors in the forehead region. In English: Ouch!


How does the brain freeze affect the body?

Not as bad as it feels. The cerebral artery’s narrowing a bit. As you pull away in agony, the pain signals override the previous command from the trigeminal nerve and command the cerebral artery to narrow again quickly. This restricts blood flow. The excess blood needs 30 to 60 seconds to drain – that’s how long the pain lasts.

Important in hot weather: Drink properly! So goes’s

How can I stop the pain?

In acute cases you do not have to do anything, the pain melts away and subsides of its own accord. Next time, don’t let it get to that point: Trick your trigeminal nerve by pressing the underside of your tongue to the palate. This warms the nerve and signals that he has just overreacted a little. This stops the brain freeze before it develops.

Conclusion: Brain frost is unpleasant, but not very serious. With a simple trick – tongue to palate – you can prevent it from developing.