How can I Reduce the Pain of Brain Freeze?

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  • Written By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 January 2019
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Brain freeze is a very painful phenomenon, which occurs when a cold drink comes in contact with the roof of the mouth. People who have never experienced brain freeze are often unsympathetic, but anyone who has experienced it knows that the pain, although brief, can be debilitating.

Although brain freeze does not actually involve the brain freezing, it does send the nerves in the roof of your mouth into a spasm, causing the brain's blood vessels to dilate. When these blood vessels dilate, it causes a sharp headache. The best way to avoid an ice cream headache, or brain freeze, is to not have the cold beverage touch the roof of your mouth, which sometimes cannot be avoided.

Because the pain from brain freeze does not last long, action must be taken immediately. Most brain freezes come to a peak in less than a minute and can last up to around five minutes. There are many fast-acting methods to combat brain freeze. The level of relief can be variable depending upon the person, so it's a good idea to have several methods of relieving brain freeze at hand, to try one after another. Many of these have not been scientifically proven, but are said to work by many people.


Some of these methods include:

  • Pressing your tongue onto the roof of your mouth.
  • Holding your breath.
  • Taking a drink of any warm beverage.
  • Holding warm hands (yours or somebody else's) over your ears.
  • Pressing your thumb on the roof of your mouth.
  • Breathing in through your mouth and out through your nose.
  • Rubbing the back of your neck vigorously.

Doctors differ on the above remedies, but they do agree that eating cold food more slowly may help avoid brain freeze. Warming up cold foods in the front of your mouth before continuing to eat can also help you avoid an ice cream headache. Avoiding brain freeze in the first place is easier than treating it.

Above all, remember to never tease someone suffering the pain of brain freeze! You may regret it next time it is your turn to drink a milkshake!


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Discuss this Article

Post 3

The funny thing about brain freeze is that the term must be a bit more recent than I thought. Perhaps it's around ten years old? Way back in 2004, I remember hearing the term and looking it up in the dictionary (a recent edition). To my surprise, the term wasn't there. It just goes to show that new expressions are developing all the time, and aren't always up to date, so to speak.

Post 2

Even though it's obvious how the term got it's name (brain freeze is pretty self explanatory), does anyone know how long the term has been around? When I was growing up in the 90's, I don't remember hearing this term at all, and it definitely sounds like something you would hear a current generation say, as a way to sound hip or try to be cool. However, despite its unknown origins, I guess it's not all that important. As I said before, the term can be easily understood, and all you have to do is put two and two together.

Post 1

While I don't enjoy getting brain freeze when I drink soft drinks, I know that there are some people who like to play games with this. For example, in the past I have known some friends who would do a dare involving it. To make a long story short, they would play a truth or dare game, while drinking frozen liquids. Whoever gave up first who would have to do a dare, or tell an embarrassing secret. I know it's supposed to be all in good fun, but I definitely don't see the appeal in it.

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