Here’s What’s Happening in Your Head When Your Brain “Freezes”— and How You Can Stop the Pain Quick

What’s the one treat you reach for when the summer heat’s got you down? Is it a healthy, juice-packed frozen treat? Perhaps some homemade ice cream? Or, be honest, is it a vodka-loaded adult ice pop? Yep, those really exist, thank God!

No matter what your preferred “beat the heat treat” may be, chances are, you don’t necessarily enjoy it with the unabashed fervor that you should. And, no, it’s not because of all of that added sugar– it’s because those ice-cold confections come with a rather inconvenient downside…


Yep, there’s nothing worse than being hit with a brain freeze so bad it feels like a concussion. We don’t know about you, but sometimes ours get so bad that we feel moved to trash the rest of the cold treat instead of finish it. Sure, it’s a tough decision to make–especially when the weather is delivering triple-digit temps–but the sensation becomes too much of a migraine trigger for us!

In fact, just yesterday, we found ourselves ditching a delicious Fudgscile after falling prey to brain freeze. Not fun, but it was an event that happened to knock some serious sense into us. We were going to turn the negative into a positive, once and for all!

So, we did what we do best, and we turned to the trusty Internet so that we could better understand brain freezes. Our hope was that our research would lead us to a solution that we could then share with you. Lucky for all of you frozen dessert-lovers out there, we’ve found a couple of super simple solutions that WORK!

But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a minute to break down this pesky biological phenomenon once and for all.

Why we get brain freezes

According to information compiled by the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, “brain freeze” is actually referred to by its official name, sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, in the scientific community. 

Neuroscientist Dwayne Godwin, PhD., describes brain freezes as “rapid onset headaches.” “Our mouths are highly vascularized, including the tongue — that’s why we take our temperatures there. But drinking a cold beverage fast doesn’t give the mouth time to absorb the cold very well,” Dr. Godwin explains. 

He goes on to say that part of the reason why brain freeze occurs is because the brain isn’t keen on the rapid temperature change, so it delivers a super-fast, migraine-level headache that is meant to give you a quick shock. Apparently, the brain thinks you are hurting yourself by chowing down on cold substances too quickly, so it sends you a message to knock it off.

Pretty annoying, but kind of amazing, too!

Now that you have a better grasp on the WHY of brain freezes, it’s time for you to learn more about how you can actually stop them in their tracks. To get the scoop on how you can enjoy your favorite summertime treats, sans brain freeze, be sure to watch the video below.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on all things brain freeze-related. Do you often suffer from brain freezes? If so, do you have any tricks for getting rid of them? What’s your all-time favorite frozen dessert?