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Can brain freeze cause brain damage? © Getty Images

Can brain freeze cause brain damage?

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How bad could an ice-cream headache be?

Asked by: ANON

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If you mean ‘ice-cream headache’, then no, brain freeze can't cause brain damage. That pain is either caused by stimulation of the trigeminal nerve in the roof of your mouth or by cold air in your sinuses resulting in an abrupt contraction of the blood vessels in your forehead (similar to the way migraines are caused). Either way, it’s fleeting, superficial and isn’t actually cooling the brain to any appreciable degree. Brain surgeons routinely cool brains down to 17.8°C to reduce damage during surgery; you’d need a lot of ice-cream to achieve that level of chill.

Actually freezing the brain, on the other hand? If you did that, ice crystals would rupture every brain cell and turn it to mush.

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