Migraine headaches are a painful, severe type of headache. Although it is not always known what causes migraine headaches and why some people get them and other people do not, certain things can trigger the onset of a migraine headache in people who are susceptible to them. Common migraine headache triggers can be things like stress, hormones, certain foods or other things in the environment. Both smoking and being exposed to secondhand smoke can trigger migraines.
Tobacco smoke, whether it is inhaled firsthand or secondhand, may trigger migraines by increasing blood pressure, constricting the blood vessels in the head and causing inflammation in the sinuses and nasal passages. Some people may also have allergies triggered by tobacco smoke, which can make these effects worse.
Researchers discovered that the number of cigarettes a person smokes is directly related to the number and severity of migraine headaches in a group of migraine sufferers. People who smoke are also more likely to get migraine headaches in the first place. People with another type of severe headache with similarity to migraines, called cluster headaches, cut their incidence of these headaches in half if they smoke less than half a pack of cigarettes each day, according to one study of cluster headache sufferers.
Smokers can reduce their incidence and severity of migraine headaches by decreasing the number of cigarettes they smoke. Quitting smoking is ideal for health purposes, but reducing the number of cigarettes smoked each day reduces your risk of health problems such as migraine headaches proportionately. It is important to note that some migraine medications may have an adverse effect with certain prescription medications that are used to help you quit smoking, so always talk to your doctor about all of the medications you are taking before starting a new one. People who are sensitive to the odor of tobacco smoke should try to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke as much as possible.