Ever wonder why your head screams in pain when you eat ice cream? We got the scoop from Dr Michael Bawden, general practitioner at the American Hospital before the summer hits and we start chowing down on the icy delight.
When ice cream touches the back of your throat, Dr Bawden says you’re activating pain nerve cells that are über-responsive to cold. Those nerves transfer the pain to your head – it’s called ‘referred pain’, much like when folks suffering from heart attacks feel pain in their shoulders. Migraine sufferers are particularly sensitive.
Shakes, malts, floats and Slurpees that you drink with a straw are more likely to cause pain, Dr Bawden says, because the cold stuff goes directly to the pain receptors in the throat.
Brain freezes usually last a minute or two. Can’t stand the headache? Dr Bawden suggests drinking some warm water or opening your mouth and panting to get warm air circulating.
To prevent the pain in the first place, eat your ice cream slowly and let it melt a bit so it isn’t freezing cold when you dig in.