Intended for healthcare professionals

Evidence That Really Matters

Ice cream evoked headaches (ICE-H) study: randomised trial of accelerated versus cautious ice cream eating regimen

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 21 December 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1445

Ice cream evoked headaches

The Ice cream evoked headaches study result confirm the importance of
cold stimulus in inducing headache of this type.(1)

To further clarify nature of cold stimulus headache, I conduct an
experment in myself to see potential of various cold stimuli to induce
headace and observe the character of pain.

I had a cold-pain sensation in my back of throat going up to center
of my head behind the frontal area after I swallowed a successive mouthful
of ice cream or iced-water, but not after I placed ice cream or iced-cube
in the mouth or the palate and try to keep them there. Swallowing or rapid
inspiring cold air in my freezer did not induce headache. The cold-pain
sensation usually occur in late period of successive swallowing, last
about 15-20 seconds and can be prevent if I stop swallowing immediately
when I had a bit cold sensation.

An observation that cold air less likely to induce headache than cold
water imply that mucosal tissue somewhere require to loss a sigficant
amout of heat to induce headache since water has higher thermal capacity
than air. Swallowing allow ice cream or iced-water to contact the
posterosuperior wall of oropharynx which may induce cold stimulus to that
region. Cold-pain sensation in the center of the head is clearly a somatic
pain and most likely come from posterior nasopharynx or sphenoid sinus,
they may recieve cold (or loss heat) transmitted by abundant venous plexus
in posterior pharyngeal wall.

Competing interests:  
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

23 December 2002
Pisut Katavetin
Bangkok, Thailand