What is an Ice Cream Headache?

At least thirty percent of the population knows what painful sensations an ice cream headache invokes and most know that such a headache is caused by eating cold food.  The real question is, why does the cold food do this.  I heard a person once say it is because, “When the cold food reaches your stomach your body draws all its heat, including heat form your head, into the stomach to digest it.”  This explanation did not sound quite right to me because when ever I had an ice cream headache it only really hurt in the back of my mouth and I did not feel any kind of chill in my arms or chest or anywhere really.

So I did research and I found that the cause of ice cream headaches has a more simple answer than heat transfer.

When you eat a cold substance quickly (like ice cream or slushy) the material does not have an opportunity to warm up in the front of your mouth so when it reaches the center or back of your mouth it will often touch the center or back of your palate (the roof of your mouth).  When it does this the blood vessels in the palate painful swell adding pressure to the inside of your head.

Such a painful sensation will last only 30 seconds to a minute (though the pain time has also been quoted as 20-30 and, rarely, 2 to five minutes).

An easy way to avoid such pain is to simply it your frozen treats slower and let them warm up in the front of your mouth before you let them touch the sensitive center and back part of your palate.








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