Ice cream may be an amazing treat, but brain freeze? Not so much. Here we break down the physical causes of the summertime annoyance.

August 17, 2017

There’s nothing quite like digging in to a sky-high ice cream cone. But indulging in the classic dessert too fast can come with some uncomfortable side effects, like brain freeze. Also known as an ice cream headache, brain freeze feels like the inside of your head just got hit with a block of ice. Ouch. In this video, we’re explaining everything you need to know about brain freeze, plus how to prevent it from happening the next time you sink your teeth into a sundae.

Though a brain freeze isn’t nearly as serious as a migraine, the chilly condition is officially categorized as its own type of headache. Believe it or not, brain freeze even has a scientific name: sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. You don’t need to remember the technical term, but do keep in mind that the headache is triggered by quickly eating or drinking things that are very cold. Proceed with caution the next time you whip up a smoothie or meet a friend for fro-yo.

But what’s actually happening in your body when your head feels frosty inside? The nerves in your mouth sense a sudden change in temperature and send messages to your brain. The arteries and blood vessels also react, causing a sudden, throbbing pain in your noggin.

RELATED: 14 Types of Headaches and How to Treat Them

The good news is that brain freeze is totally harmless and it typically only lasts for a few seconds. But if you really can’t deal with the chill, try drinking warm water slowly or pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Both strategies work to warm up frigid nerves.

Another way to avoid brain freeze? Enjoy your ice cream sandwich, boozy slushies, or homemade popsicle slowly, taking time to savor every yummy bite. We know, we know—easier said than done.