What is an Ice Cream Headache?

Ice cream headaches are brief, stabbing headaches that can happen when you eat, drink or inhale something cold. Digging into an ice cream cone is a common trigger. Fortunately, most such headaches are gone almost as quickly as they develop.

Symptoms include:

  • Sharp, stabbing pain in the forehead

  • Pain that peaks about 20 to 60 seconds after it begins and goes away in about the same time

  • Pain that rarely lasts longer than five minutes


The headaches are caused by cold material moving across the warm roof of your mouth and the back of your throat. Scientists are still unsure about the exact mechanism that causes this pain. To help prevent ice cream headaches, try eating cold foods and drinking cold beverages slowly. Holding your tongue against the roof of your mouth may help resolve the headache more quickly. Because ice cream headaches go away on their own shortly after they start, there's no need to see a doctor.