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What causes Ice-cream headaches?

Jonathan David Byrd jb019a at uhura.cc.rochester.edu
Tue Feb 20 12:24:16 EST 1996

In <4g8qrl$9cq at hunter.premier.net> cogito at premier.net writes:

>On 16 Feb 1996 15:56:21 GMT, cweaver at bu.edu (Charles Weaver) wrote:

>>It is not! the phrenic nerve (this is the nerve that goes to the diapharam)
>>unless you are getting hichoughs from eating icecream.  I always assumed it
>>was a vascular thing.....the cold in the esophagus cools blood in the carotid
>>artery and then the coold somehow causes spasm in the arterys in the brain
>>leading to meningeal irritation.......sound good......this is of course
>>totally speculative.....
>>Anyone else have a thought???

	Your reasoning is flawed.  I know the phrenic goes to the diaphragm
but that does not mean that it can't be the culprit whether it is actually
the phrenic nerve or not that is being chilled.  But one of the spinal
nerves passes close to the esophagus and I have heard that this is the
culprit.  By your reasoning, people who live in cold environs should be
experiencing massive headaches from their chilled blood, that we know is not
the case.  From my studies of arterial physiology, there is nothing to
suggest that cold would cause spasms, especially since I have heard of no
way for smooth muscle to respond to cold by spasms.  In addition, it has
been my observation that ice cream headaches effect the same area of the
brain everytime which is generally in the posterior lateral frontal cortex.
Thus implicating nerves in pain because arterial culprits could effect many
areas of the brain if the blood were cooling.

Yours truly,
Jonathan Byrd
Dept. of Neuroscience

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