Nugget of Knowledge: Frozen headache explained

Eat or drink slowly to avoid the headache

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – During this hot summer, you may have gobbled up some ice cream a little fast. Did you get that frozen headache?

When something cold like ice cream touches the roof of your mouth, your blood vessels cool and constrict.

When the blood vessels warm up again, they dilate. The nerves in your mouth read this dilation as pain and send pain signals to the brain through the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is responsible for sensation in your face, but the brain thinks it’s coming from the forehead, which is where the headache comes from.

Slow down.

Eating or drinking cold food slowly allows your mouth to get used to the temperature.

Your saliva is mostly recycled, rather than produced, because you are constantly swallowing and reabsorbing it. But the flow rate is around six teaspoons an hour – a bit more when you’re eating and a bit less when you’re sleeping.

That’s a wine bottle full every day, or 5,000 300 gallons in your lifetime. In other words, 53 bathtubs full to the brim with saliva!

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