Why do you get a headache when you eat ice cream too fast?

The intense headache that comes with devouring ice cream is a signal that the body is protecting itself.

When cold material moves quickly across the roof of the mouth, the nerves there respond as if the body’s nearby areas also will freeze, and tell your blood vessels the brain might be in danger.

“In order to protect your brain, the blood vessels [near the mouth] constrict, which forces an intense rush of blood to your brain,” says Dr. Ernest Sully, emergency room physician at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The increased blood pressure, meant to ensure that your brain stays warm, causes a headache.

Ice cream headaches, sometimes called brain freeze, last about 10 to 20 seconds. To get rid of the ache more quickly, rub your tongue across the roof of your mouth to create some heat. The sooner your mouth warms up, the sooner your body’s defenses will back down so you can continue to enjoy your Rocky Road.

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