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Can 'Brain Freeze' Cause Long-Term Brain Damage?


We’ve all sucked down a milkshake so quickly that it causes a sudden headache—the dreaded brain freeze. But . . . milkshake. Tasty. Must. Drink. Could chugging the rest of that shake cause lasting brain damage?

First, let’s get one thing straight. “This condition is referred to as an ‘ice-cream headache,’ ” says Stacey Gray, a sinus surgeon at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. “It’s a very technical term.” Although there’s no published paper saying as much, a milkshake slurped too quickly probably does not actually lower brain temperature. Besides, Gray says, the temporary pain can’t do any harm because it has nothing to do with the brain.

There are two schools of thought on what causes the ice-cream headache. The drink may chill the air in your sinuses and cause the blood vessels in the nasal cavity near your forehead to constrict, creating pain similar to a migraine.

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