Ice Cream Headache - Site, Duration, and Relationship to Migraine
Article first published online: 19 MAY 2005
Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain
Volume 32, Issue 1, pages 35–38, January 1992
How to Cite
Bird, N., MacGregor, A. and Wilkinson, M. I. R. (1992), Ice Cream Headache - Site, Duration, and Relationship to Migraine. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 32: 35–38. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.1992.hed3201035.x
- Issue published online: 19 MAY 2005
- Article first published online: 19 MAY 2005
- Accepted for Publication: September 18, 1991.
- Cited By
- cold induced headache;
- ice cream headache;
- cold induced toothach
Objective - To examine the characteristics of cold-induced headaches in a group of migraine patients, to compare these with their usual migraine headache and with cold-induced headache in s control population.
Design - Subjects completed a structured questionnaire recording previous headache history along with the characteristics of any headache produced during supervised palatal and pharyngeal application of ice cream.
Subjects - 70 consecutive patients attending the City of London Migraine Clinic, and 50 pre-clinical medical and dental student volunteers from Queen Mary and Westfield College.
Results - 27% of the migraine patients and 40% of the students reported previous ice cream headaches. 17% of the migraine patients and 46% of the students developed headache following palatal application or a swallow of ice cream.
Typically the headache was of early onset (x = 12.5s) and short duration (x = 21s), with a tendency for anterior headache on the same side as a palatal stimulus, and bilateral headache following an ice cream swallow. However, a significant minority experienced a previously unreported headache of late onset (x = 102s) and long duration (x = 236s) which tended to occur particularly after swallowing ice cream and to be less wall localised to the side of the cold stimulus.
Ice cream appeared not to be a common trigger for migraine, and there was no significant correlation between site of ice cream headache and usual site of migraine.
Conclusions - These findings confirm that cold stimulation of the palate or pharynx commonly produces a headache. In contrast to previous studies, our results suggest that the 'ice cream headache' is less common in migraine patients than the general population. A similar pattern of headache was produced in both migraine patients and controls, and apart from the few for whom an ice cream headache may trigger a migraine, the ice cream headache seems not to have any special significance for migraine patients.