Health — 10 July 2013


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Why do brain freezes happen

Brain freezes can be very painful and sudden. It does not happen to all of us but some people experience a burst of pain at the forehead when they eat or drink something cold. In the language of medicine the stab like pain on the forehead that comes with eating ice-cream or cold drinks is called sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. Such a hefty term is not easy to use so we just call it brain freeze. As we have studied Newton’s Third Law we know that every action produces a reaction. The brain freeze is the physical reaction we get from eating very cold food or drink. It is also termed as the ice cream headache.

When we eat something very cold, such as ice-cream, the cold spreads through the palate. The drastic change of temperature of the tissues make the nerves send emergency signals to the blood vessels and they swell in an attempt to combat the sudden temperature drop. The pain comes as a result of the swelling and dilation of the blood vessels. Basically it is a nervous reaction to the change of temperature in the tissues. The swelling of the blood vessels rushes more blood through the frozen tissues and try to warm that place up fast. It is a backup system that our body possesses.

When the blood vessels get dilated it involuntarily provokes the pain receptors in our tissues. The pain receptors release a lipid compound named prostaglandin which increases the feeling of pain. The prostaglandin causes inflammation while it sends message regarding the problem through the trigeminal nerve. The job of the trigeminal nerve is to sense the facial pains and it decodes the message as a pain caused at the forehead. The brain freeze lasts about 30 seconds or so. People also experience headache when exposed to cold climate due to the same reason.

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Written by Anupam Jolly

With a bachelor’s degree in technology and over five years of experience in online content generation and distribution, Anupam Jolly has been creating and editing content spanning across a variety of domains. An avid environmentalist, Anupam Jolly believes that if humans can degrade the environment, they can save it from disaster too.

About Author

Anupam Jolly

With a bachelor’s degree in technology and over five years of experience in online content generation and distribution, Anupam Jolly has been creating and editing content spanning across a variety of domains. An avid environmentalist, Anupam Jolly believes that if humans can degrade the environment, they can save it from disaster too.

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