Wednesday , September 28 2022

What is behind the painful headache eating ice cream?


Pain breaks out when you eat ice cream – what can be done for it?

Have you ever felt a sharp headache while eating ice cream or drinking a cold milk shake? Especially during hot summer days, ice drinks and ice cream are popular cooling. This rarely leads to a severe stabbing headache that lasts for a few seconds and then disappears again. A specialist explains what is behind the unpopular "brain frost".

Brain Freeze, Eiskopfschmerz, Brain Freeze – the painful consequence of eating ice cream has many names. "We doctors call this cold headache," explains Dr. Amaal Starling, neuroscientist at the Mayo Clinic, one of the most prestigious clinics in America. Responsible for pain shocks are the rapid changes in blood vessels that are triggered by the absorption of cold substances.

Young people enjoy their ice cream
Short and stinging headaches are often the result of eating cold ingredients like ice cream or milk shakes too quickly and quickly. (Image: Kalym /

Cold, delicious and sometimes painful

As neuroscientist reports, sudden pain in particular is the blood vessels that are in the mouth and in the back of the throat. "If these vessels are quickly exposed to something very cold, they narrow or become smaller," explains the neurologist. In response, the dishes expanded again. Rapid change activates pain receptors, which then trigger the known "brain frost".

Intense but not dangerous

According to Starling, such outbursts of pain can be very intense and last for a few seconds. But such pain is not dangerous. If you want to avoid pain, you should avoid the triggers. But that does not mean you have to do without ice cream and milk shakes. Slow drinking or eating can usually prevent the effect, says the specialist. (Vb)

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Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Mayo Clinic: Freezing the Brain with Ice Cream (available on July 26, 2019),

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