Ouch! I’ve got brain freeze!

Ouch! I’ve got brain freeze!

Have you ever had brain freeze?

Have you ever had brain freeze? Lots of people get it when they eat something frozen. It feels like a really painful headache. I get it when I eat ice cream!

Researchers realised that people who suffer from migraines - a type of very painful headache - are more likely to get brain freeze than people who don't get migraines.

The researchers decided to study brain freeze as a way of studying migraines. They asked volunteers to sip iced water through a straw. Blood flowing through the volunteers' brain was monitored.

Headache_92188741

Brain freeze can be very painful

When the volunteers got brain freeze a blood vessel called the anterior cerebral artery increased in size. This blood vessel is found in the middle of the brain, behind the eyes.

The anterior cerebral artery increased in size because it had more blood flowing through it.

Scientists aren't sure why more blood flows through the anterior cerebral artery when people get brain freeze. Perhaps it helps to make sure that the brain doesn't get too cold.

Increasing the flow of warm blood through the brain will counteract the cold from the frozen food or drinks.

When the artery reduced in size, the volunteers felt the pain disappear. It seems like increased blood flowing through the anterior cerebral artery causes brain freeze.

Blood vessel_114288039

Increased blood flow through the anterior cerebral artery causes brain freeze

Next time you've got brain freeze, you can think about the extra blood flowing through your brain!

One way to prevent brain freeze is to stop the cold food or drink touching the roof of your mouth. This means that your body won't think that your brain is getting cold.

If migraines work in the same way, drugs that constrict blood flow could help to treat them.

Curriculum information

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