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Health A-Z

Headache: ice-cream makes my head hurt

Whenever I drink more than a few sips of an ice-cold drink, I get a headache. It lasts for perhaps half a minute and then goes away. The worst cause is a Mcdonald's milkshake, which causes the headache after a few sips. Is there a cure for this?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

The technical name for this is a cold stimulus , more commonly known as ice-cream headache. It is caused by cold liquids coming into contact with the palate and the back of the throat. It has been estimated that as many as 75 per cent of people have had this problem at some time in their life. About three years ago, a group of Canadian 14-year-old school pupils published a research paper in the British Medical Journal about ice-cream headache. They discovered that if you eat ice cream quickly, you are much more likely to get a headache than if you eat it slowly. Suggested cures include pressing your thumb up against the front of your palate - said to bring almost instant relief, probably by raising the temperature of the palate. Another is to firmly massage both sides of the back of the neck. The final cure is to avoid cold drinks and ice cream.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.