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Frozen Headaches

My kids call them "frozen headaches"--others just call them "ice cream headaches"--the sudden onset of piercing head pain if you bite an ice pop or eat your ice cream cone too fast.  This pain is usually felt in the middle of the forehead and lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes.  These headaches are a definite nuisance--but could they also have some diagnostic value?

A recent study published in a prominent headache journal [Cephalgia, 2001; 21: 230-235] showed that women who had at least one migraine in the past year were twice as likely to get a frozen headache after drinking cold water through a straw...compared to women who had never had a migraine.  The study does not answer the opposite question, however: whether women who are prone to frozen headaches would necessarily be more prone to migraines. 

The researchers are unable to explain exactly how a cold sensation in the roof of the mouth causes this intense headache, but they presume it triggers the same mechanism as the pain of migraine.  For those women who do suffer from frequent migraines, eating or drinking ice cold foods and beverages may have to be added to the list of possible triggers to avoid. 

For more information, click here.

Created: 8/30/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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