Ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, and smoothies are among the special treats of summer. There's nothing quite like the dreamy quality of an icy delight as it melts on your tongue and enlivens your taste buds. Strawberry? Chocolate? Vanilla? Mango? Dulce de leche? Simply recalling our favorite flavors makes us salivate.
But what are we forgetting that's also part of the experience?
Did you forget the unpleasant memory of an ice cream headache — an all too frequent event that interrupts the enjoyment of these frozen delicacies?
The official name for brain freeze — the uncomfortable throbbing between your eyebrows — is a tongue twister, "sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia." It's defined as a brief head pain associated with the quick consumption of cold foods or beverages.
It seems there’s a bundle of nerves in the roof of the mouth that gets just as excited by cold treats as our taste buds do. When we eat something cold, the nerve endings send instant messages to the brain causing arteries and blood vessels to contract. Our heads begin to throb and we refer to the discomfort as “brain freeze.”
Brain freeze isn’t dangerous and it usually lasts only a few seconds. All it takes to make it go away is to let the roof of your mouth heat up. You can wait it out, drink a little warm water, or press your tongue to the roof of your mouth — anything that warms the triggered bundle of nerve endings.
Another option is to avoid chilly pleasures entirely — but where's the joy in that?
Brain freeze is your body's way of putting on the brakes, telling you to slow down and take it easy – not a bad idea.
With that in mind, this is the last blog of the season. Enjoy a relaxing summer and I look forward to reconvening in September.
Until then, a toast to you my treasured readers!