I Scream From Ice Cream
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cat There is nothing quite like an ice cream cone or a slushy on a hot summer’s day until…..BRAIN FREEZE…aargh. Why does something so enjoyable come at the risk of such pain?

First, what most of us call brain freeze actually has another name that’s a mouthful, sphenopalatine ganglion neuralgia. No, that wasn’t emperor palpatine. In the roof of your mouth, the palate, are many little blood vessels along with nerve fibers called nociceptors which can detect painful or noxious stimuli. The name nociceptors is derived from the Latin word, noceo, which means “hurt”. The free ends of nociceptors in the skin, muscle, joints, bone and viscera convert pain stimuli into electrical signals which are then transmitted to the brain.

There are four kinds of skin nociceptors, some that respond to heat, to chemical substances, to mechanical stimulation like a pinch, and polymodal nociceptors that respond to high intensity signals. Well, that big bite of ice cream causes the capillaries in the roof of your mouth to constrict and it happens so quickly that the nociceptors send a signal of pain to your brain.

In one study a few years ago, thirteen volunteers were asked to drink ice water through a straw to ensure the water hit the palate. This caused a sudden dramatic rush of blood through an artery of the brain, raising pressure in the brain and causing pain.

The rush of blood may be an effort to keep the brain warm but the pain is also severe enough that most people stop eating their ice cream until it passes. So what can you do about brain freeze?

Drink warm liquid or push your tongue against the roof of your mouth to warm the palate. That should curb the pain so you can go right back to finishing your dessert!

For more information…

Why We All Scream When We Get Ice Cream Brain Freeze
Ah, the brain freeze — the signature pain of summer experienced by anyone who has eaten an ice cream cone with too much enthusiasm or slurped down a slushie a little too quickly. But have you ever stopped mid-freeze to think about why our bodies react like this? Well, researchers who study pain have, and some, like Dr. Kris Rau of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, say it's a good way to understand the basics of how we process damaging stimuli...

The relatively unspecialized nerve cell endings that initiate the sensation of pain are called nociceptors (noci- is derived from the Latin for “hurt”) (see Figure 9.2). Like other cutaneous and subcutaneous receptors, they transduce a variety of stimuli into receptor potentials, which in turn trigger afferent action potentials. Moreover, nociceptors, like other somatic sensory receptors, arise from cell bodies in dorsal root ganglia (or in the trigeminal ganglion) that send one axonal process to the periphery and the other into the spinal cord or brainstem...

Congenital insensitivity to pain
Congenital insensitivity to pain is a condition, present from birth, that inhibits the ability to perceive physical pain. Affected individuals are unable to feel pain in any part of their body. Over time, this lack of pain awareness can lead to an accumulation of injuries and health issues that may affect life expectancy....