A sudden change in temperature in your mouth when eating something cold will trigger brain freeze, an intense 30-second headache. When something cold touches the roof of the mouth, blood vessels in the head dilate because the chilled nerve center over-reacts in trying to warm up the brain.
And because sensory circuits don’t always correctly identify an afflicted area, people experience the pain from the roof of their mouths in their foreheads as a referral pain. Some persons are so sensitive to brain freeze that just stepping out into a very cold climate triggers the reaction.
For the majority of us who experience the pain only when eating ice cream, here are some tips to avoid and minimize the pain:
1. Eat ice cream slowly to break the cycle of sudden chilling and warming in the mouth.
2. Keep your mouth cold while you’re eating something cold.
3. Keep cold foods toward the side of the mouth rather than up against the hard palate in the roof of your mouth.
4. If you sense an ice cream headache forming, use your tongue to take the chill off the hard palate.
5. Finally, limit your intake of ice cream. It’s loaded with sugar and fats and can lead to obesity and heart disease.
SOURCE: Dr Andrew Weil’s Tip of the Day, August 3, 2013 About.com Chemistry