Headaches and Smoking: Another Reason to Quit Smoking

There are many great reasons to quit smoking.

Smoking messes with your sinus cavity and nasal passages, circulation, and blood pressure. It increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and, of course, lung cancer. But aside from their potential to kill you slowly, smoking cigarettes can also lead to headaches. The bad news for non-smokers is that second hand smoke can have a similar effect.

If you are looking for another reason to quit smoking, avoiding headaches and migraines is a good one. Smokers know that they should quit in order to improve their health, but doing so is often easier said than done. However, if you are suffering from debilitating headaches that are affecting your daily life, that cigarette might just begin to lose its appeal.

Tobacco use has been linked to migraines and cluster headaches, so now there is one more reason to give up one of the most damaging of all vices.

How Smoking Triggers Headaches

A number of the effects of smoking tobacco can lead directly to headache pain.

Nicotine, one of tobacco’s primary components, causes blood vessels in the brain to narrow or constrict. Meanwhile, the smoke itself is an irritant to the nerves in the back of the throat. Both of these can act as headache triggers in smokers and non-smokers alike. The increase in carbon dioxide caused by smoking results in less oxygen getting to the brain. Cigarettes are also full of other toxins that make their way to the brain when the smoke is inhaled. That’s two more headache triggers.

Needless to say, smoking comes with many risk factors besides headaches, including:


If you are already suffering from a headache, whether it is brought on by smoking or not, you may be surprised to learn that smoking could reduce the effectiveness of your pain medication. If your over the counter pain medication does not seem to be having an effect, try cutting out the cigarettes and see what happens.

Because smoking increases carbon dioxide, it means less oxygen gets to the brain and if that wasn’t bad enough, smoking also delivers several toxins to the brain. All in all, that can be one mighty headache trigger!

What You Can Do

If you really want to quit the “demon weed”, there are many ways of doing so. Using nicotine patches or gum are effective means of quitting. You might also want to try out one of the many electronic cigarettes on the market today. These deliver the buzz of a cigarette without delivering the tar and nasty chemicals that are present in every cigarette you smoke.

There is no way around it, the best course of action to reduce headaches and improve your health is to stop smoking. Removing the stimulus of nicotine will relieve headaches. If you are a smoker suffering from cluster headaches, quitting smoking should be your first course of action. For non-smokers with a high sensitivity to cigarette smoke things might be a little trickier because your headaches are not caused by your own direct actions. Avoiding second hand smoke is the only option. Luckily, laws and changing societal views have made most of our public spaces smoke free.

The doctors at the National Headache Institute are here to help you with smoke related headaches or any type of headache you may be suffering from. We specialize in headaches of all types and will diagnose and determine the cause of your headache so that together we can rid you of headache pain. Call the National Headache Institute today to schedule your consultation.

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