Cold stimulus headache
- Ivan Garza, MD
Ivan Garza, MD
- Assistant Professor of Neurology
- Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
Cold stimulus headache, also known as ice-cream headache or brain-freeze headache, is triggered by exposure of the unprotected head to a cold environment, or by ingesting cold materials that pass over the palate and posterior pharynx.
This topic will review cold stimulus headache. Other types of headache are reviewed elsewhere. (See "Evaluation of headache in adults" and "Headache in children: Approach to evaluation and general management strategies".)
Cranial neuralgias and central causes of facial pain are discussed separately. (See "Overview of craniofacial pain" and "Central neuropathic facial pain" and "Nervus intermedius neuralgia" and "Nummular headache" and "Occipital neuralgia" and "Trigeminal neuralgia".)
In a Danish cross-sectional general population survey of people 25 to 64 years old, the lifetime prevalence of cold stimulus headache was 15 percent , while a survey of 13 to 15 year old adolescents from Taiwan found a prevalence of 41 percent . Some studies [2,4-6], but not all , suggest that cold stimulus headache is more common in migraineurs than in the general population. A familial predisposition is suggested by the results of a cross-sectional epidemiologic study of students (age 10 to 14 years) from Germany, which found that the risk of cold stimulus headache was increased for children whose mother (odds ratio [OR] 10.7) or father (OR 8.4) had cold stimulus headache .
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