Ice isn’t just for the good times – it could help ease migraines

Migraine affects around 15 per cent of UK adults, and unless you’ve experienced one it’s pretty hard to convey what they are like other than them being a severe headache accompanied by nausea or visual disturbances, which often feels like having a golf ball behind one of your eyes.

Plenty of prescription and over the counter drugs are available to help ease the pain, while many also lock themselves away in a cold dark room to sleep it off.

But now it’s looking like another solution could be at hand, something very close to our hearts – ice.

Scientists at Penrith Community Hospital, in Cumbria, are trialing a device that cools the brain by blasting ice cold liquid into the nostrils and nasal cavity, behind which lie the hundreds of blood vessels that supply the brain.

The cold liquid cools the blood vessels which contract and then deliver cooler blood to the rest of the brain.  This leads to the overall temperature of the brain dropping, and causes blood vessels throughout it to constrict back to a normal size.

The battery-powered device, roughly the size of a large handbag, was designed to prevent brain damage following a heart attack or stroke.  Both of these conditions cause brain cells to be deprived of oxygen, which triggers the release of various damaging molecules.

Reducing the temperature of the brain is thought to prevent the release of these harmful compounds, although scientists are still unsure how exactly it does this.

In the meantime, whenever you have any kind of headache putting a bag of ice wrapped in a tea towel on your head is a great way to help ease the pain.  And, yes it also works for hangovers!

cool ice