Ice cream headaches are caused by cold material moving across the roof of your mouth and the back of your throat, as happens when you eat ice cream quickly or gulp a cold drink. Scientists are still unsure about the exact mechanism that causes this pain.
One theory suggests that the cold food or drink may temporarily alter blood flow in your brain, causing a brief headache. Some researchers suspect that the pain is referred from your mouth to your head via the trigeminal nerve, which delivers sensory information from the face and mouth to the brain.
Feb. 07, 2012
- Headache: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/detail_headache.htm. Accessed Oct. 14, 2011.
- Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society. The international classification of headache disorders: 2nd edition. Cephalalgia. 2004;24(suppl):9.
- Fuh JL, et al. Ice-cream headache — A large survey of 8359 adolescents. Cephalalgia. 2003;23:977.
- Boes CJ, et al. Headache and other craniofacial pain. In: Bradley WG, et al. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2008:65.
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