I can’t tell you how much I love Sonic drinks this time of the year. Well, all year really. The carhops are starting to know me by name. But when an average day stays above 85, it’s time to get into the season of Sonic slushes. My personal favorite is grape. Until about three gulps in, that is.
We’ve all been victim to the rapid, violent tormentor that is the brain freeze. Luckily, we may soon know more about this and other headaches, thanks to research presented this month by the American Physiological Society.
In this study, Melissa Mary Blatt, Michael Falvo, and Jessica Jasien of the Department of Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health Care System, Brian Deegan and Gearold Laighin of the National University of Ireland Galway, and Jorge Serrador of Harvard Medical School are trying to develop new treatments for a variety of different headache types, such as migraines.
The team figured that they could learn a lot about headaches by studying a very short and simple type that we’re all familiar with. They asked a group of volunteers to sip ice-cold water through a straw pressed against their upper palate. Trouble coming. The volunteers were responsible for reporting the beginning and end of pain while researchers monitored what happened in the brain.
Their findings indicate that as the pain starts, a particular blood vessel in the brain rapidly dilates to fill the brain with blood. It very soon then constricts, coinciding with pain relief.
Thus, brain freeze may be a type of brain self-defense. Our brains are very sensitive to temperature changes, and in this case appears to be flushing a lot of warm blood in to counter the cold. However, this sudden influx causes a lot of pressure changes inside our heads, thus the pain. As the blood leaves, pressure and pain are relieved.
If this increased blood flow is also to blame for other types of headaches, then this group has discovered a new point for which to develop treatment. Drugs could be developed to block sudden increases in blood flow in the brain, delaying or easing the various headaches that may result, and we may all be a lot happier after a long day at the lab.
Thanks & Gig ‘Em.