Ice Cream Brain Freeze: What Causes It?

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by Lindsey Davis

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 4, 2012 at 1:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 4 at 1:59 PM

(ABC News) -- When its hot outside the sound of an ice cream truck can be music to your ears.

Every year, the average American consumes six gallons of the creamy cold stuff, but even though we all scream for ice cream, it can lead to screaming pain.

That's right, the dreaded ice cream headache or brain freeze as it is more commonly known.

Military doctors are actually studying the "rocky road" to brain freeze. They've found that when you wolf down that triple scoop, your frozen treat sends an icy blast to a nerve in the roof of your mouth. The same nerve that detects pain in your forehead.

"When that very rapid cooling occurs, that disturbance is picked up by that nerve," Dr. Elizabeth Loder of the headache center at Harvard University said.

Loder said brain freeze is very common, even more so if you're already prone to headaches. And, speed counts.

"So there's an easy fix in store which is eat cautiously and slowly like your mother told you," Loder said.

So if the summer heat means you just have to have that Slurpee or Blizzard or any other frozen treat, don't sweat it but slurp at your own risk.

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