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SCIENCE FILE: An exploration of issues and trends affecting science, medicine and the environment.

Q: What causes an “ice cream headache?”

A: A severe, brief frontal headache can occur after eating ice cream or when any cold food is applied to the roof of the mouth, according to Dr. Seymour Diamond of the Diamond Headache Clinic at Columbus Hospital in Chicago. The pain, usually dull and throbbing, can be felt in the face, throat or head, and often radiates all over the head because the fifth cranial nerve--the source of the pain--carries the sensation from the roof of the mouth and distributes it along its many branches. Ice cream headaches normally last for only a few moments and require no treatment. They are more common in people who suffer from migraine headaches.


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