We all know that smoking is unhealthy. You may be unaware, though, that it can be a major contributing factor to severe headaches. Sometimes these headaches can be referred to as smokers' headaches. Several recent studies have revealed the connection between smoking and headaches. The evidence is strong that quitting smoking can reduce both the frequency and intensity of headaches, especially the cluster and migraine headache types.
We will look at the findings from the recent science on smoking and headaches below. First, though, let's discuss what cigarettes do to the body and how they can logically lead to head pain or "smoker headache.”
How Smoking Affects the Body
Smoking causes two detrimental effects in the body with concern to headache symptoms, adversely impacting both the circulatory and nervous systems. Regarding circulation, the nicotine in cigarettes causes constriction of the brain's blood vessels.
Regarding the nerves, the smoke itself generates neural excitement within the throat. When those nerves become stimulated, it becomes more likely that a person will suffer a headache.
Smoking & Headaches: Study Findings
Cluster Headache Study #1 – According to WebMD, cluster headaches can be alleviated when a person stops smoking or removes herself from an environment containing secondhand smoke (1). This statement is backed by a study of patients with cluster headaches who were also active smokers. Headache symptoms were cut in half for those participants in the study who reduced their cigarette intake to less than 10 a day.
Cluster Headache Study #2 – According to Headache Magazine, a report published in the journal Headache found that 73% of people who develop cluster headaches have a history of smoking (2).
Migraine Headache Study – Science Daily recently reported on a study published in the Journal of Headache and Pain. Almost 400 Spanish medical students were analyzed to determine a possible correlation between migraines and smoking (3). Two compelling pieces of information emerged from the study, bolstering the idea that a "smoker headache" is a legitimate concept:
If you or a loved one has either of the above headache types – cluster or migraine – quitting smoking could be a viable option to reduce your symptoms. Additionally, you may be interested in our groundbreaking treatment to reduce headache pain, MiRx™ Protocol. Click here to find a provider near you to learn more. Find A Provider