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Everyone’s Coldest Nightmare: The Brainfreeze

Clyde N., Reporter

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Everyone knows the feeling of a brain freeze – the harsh headache caused by drinking, or in some cases eating, cold food. But what really causes this phenomenon? Brain Freeze, also known as a cold-stimulus headache or its scientific name, sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, is a very short or around 20 second headache that can occur when eating cold foods or drinks.

When the cold food or beverage touches the roof of your mouth, it triggers a nerve reaction which causes your blood vessels to swell. However, there are other theories on the causes of brain freezes such as the Anterior cerebral theory.  This theory states that brain freezes are caused by the increased blood flow to the brain from the anterior cerebral artery.

The first recorded term for brain freeze was in January 31, 1937, in a journal entry by Rebecca Timbers. She used the term “ice-cream headache” to describe this feeling.

Over the years, scientists such Maya Kaczorowski, Nigel Bird, Anne MacGregor, and Marcia I. Wilkinson have done extensive research on brain freezes. Many scientists are studying brain freezes to see their relationship to migraines, another common headache. Brain freezes are becoming a more popular topic of research as there are still many questions surrounding the sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.





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Everyone’s Coldest Nightmare: The Brainfreeze