An ice-cream headache, also known as brain freeze, cold-stimulus headache,or its given scientific name sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia (meaning "nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion"), is a form of brief cranial pain or headache commonly associated with consumption (particularly quick consumption) of cold beverages or foods such as ice cream and ice pops. It is caused by having something cold touch the roof of the mouth (palate), and is believed to result from a nerve response causing rapid constriction and swelling of blood vessels or a "referring" of pain from the roof of the mouth to the head.The rate of intake for cold foods has been studied as a contributing factor.There are people who cannot experience "brain freeze" or similar symptoms.
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The primary aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of cold-induced headache and to test if it is associated with migraine. Women attending a population-based mammography screening programme were asked to participate in the study. Fifty-one of 669 women (7.6%) experienced a headache after ingesting 150 ml of ice-cold water through a straw. Women who had experienced one or more migraine attacks in the last year (active migraine) were twice as likely to experience a headache from ingesting the cold water as women who had never suffered from migraine. Ninety-five women who had experienced their most recent migraine attack more than 1 year ago (inactive migraine) were not at increased risk. The prevalence of active and inactive migraine was 19.4 and 14.2%, respectively. Headache caused by drinking cold water is common in women. The results indicate that active migraine facilitates the perception of forehead pain induced by a cold palatal stimulus.