Headache Education Center

COLD-STIMULUS HEADACHE


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Description


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This is a headache triggered by a cold stimulus applied externally to the head, ingested or inhaled. The first type is a short-lasting frontal, temple, often bilateral (both sides of the head), or behind an eye of intense pain, triggered by passage of cold material (such as cold food or beverage, ice, ice-cream, etc.) over the roof of the mouth and/or back of the throat. Prior terms have included “brain freeze” and “ice-cream headache”.  The pain can involve both sides or involve only 1 side. The pain typically lasts seconds, but can last up to 10 minutes after removal of the cold stimulus.

The second type is a headache felt throughout the whole head following exposure of the head to a very cold temperature from exposures such as cold weather, cryotherapy, or cold water. This type of headache can also sometimes be an intense, short-lasting, stabbing headache in the forehead or can be one sided in the frontal, temple, or behind the eye areas. It resolves within 30 minutes after removal of the cold stimulus.