What Causes Ice Cream Headaches?

When you eat or drink, the food comes into contact with the roof of your mouth called the palate. The palate has sensitive nerves that control blood flow to the head.

When something extremely cold touches the palate, these nerves send a message to the brain, causing the blood vessels in the head to suddenly swell. This sudden swelling of blood vessels leads to a throbbing sensation in the head, known as an ice cream headache.

Although some people refer to this as “brain freeze,” it does not actually affect the brain. The headache sensation is simply a result of the blood vessels swelling in the head.

Ice cream headaches are not harmful, but they can be uncomfortable. They usually only last for a minute or so before quickly disappearing.

While ice cream is the most common trigger for brain freeze, other cold foods and drinks can also cause headaches, such as frozen slushees, popsicles, cold water, or juice.

To enjoy cold foods without experiencing brain freeze, doctors recommend eating them slowly or warming them up in your mouth before swallowing.

If you feel a brain freeze coming on, take a break and allow your palate to warm up. Soon enough, you’ll be ready to continue enjoying your treat.

Give It a Try

Now that you know how to prevent ice cream headaches, you can enjoy this frozen dessert without any worries. And what’s better than homemade ice cream?

Learn how to turn milk into ice cream in just five minutes by following the instructions on the Kaboose website. No magic wand required, but you will need a plastic bag.


1. Why do you get ice cream headaches?

Ice cream headaches, also known as brain freezes, occur when you consume something cold too quickly. When you eat or drink cold substances, they come into contact with the roof of your mouth, which contains many sensitive nerves. The sudden cold temperature causes the blood vessels in your head to constrict and then rapidly expand. This abrupt change in blood flow triggers a headache.

2. How long do ice cream headaches last?

The duration of an ice cream headache varies from person to person, but they typically last for a few seconds up to a minute. The pain is intense but short-lived. If you experience a longer-lasting headache or severe pain, it is advisable to seek medical attention as it could be a sign of an underlying condition.

3. Can ice cream headaches be prevented?

While it’s challenging to completely prevent ice cream headaches, there are a few strategies that may help minimize their occurrence. One method is to eat cold foods slowly, allowing your mouth to adjust to the temperature gradually. Drinking warm water before and after consuming cold substances can also help. Additionally, avoiding extremely cold foods or drinks can reduce the likelihood of experiencing ice cream headaches.

4. Are ice cream headaches dangerous?

Ice cream headaches are generally harmless and temporary. They do not cause any long-term damage or pose significant health risks. However, the sudden pain can be uncomfortable and may disrupt your enjoyment of cold treats. If you experience frequent or severe ice cream headaches, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying conditions.

5. Can anyone get ice cream headaches?

Yes, anyone can experience ice cream headaches. However, some individuals may be more prone to getting them than others. People who have a history of migraines or who are sensitive to cold temperatures may be more susceptible. Additionally, children and teenagers may be more likely to experience ice cream headaches, although they can occur in individuals of any age.

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