of course, no surprise to hear that smoking is responsible for a
number of physical afflictions, including heart disease, asthma,
bronchitis, and lung cancer. But what about migraine headaches?
Yes, it appears that there might be a link between cigarettes /
tobacco and migraines.
Is there a connection between smoking and migraines?
First, a caveat: There has been no study on
the issue that specifically examined cigarette smoking's link with
migraines. Studies of general chronic headaches and smoking
are all we have to look at and their application to migraines is
However, a study was recently conducted among smokers
who suffer from chronic cluster headaches. The results might be
significant for migraine sufferers also. According to the
study, those smokers who reduced their smoking by only a half pack
a day or less reduced the frequency of their headaches by an astounding
50 percent. The people who conducted the study asked patients
only to reduce the amount of their smoking, not to completely stop. There's good reason to believe the results would have been
even more impressive if the patients had been required to quit entirely.
Another study is also enlightening. In this one, 50 percent
of migraine-headache patients who completely quit smoking and also
eliminated all food triggers that they had identified as contributing
to their attacks experienced a total elimination of migraines. On
the other hand, only 13 percent of patients who were non-smokers
who eliminated food triggers became completely migraine-free.
Many people suffering from migraine headaches are
also quite sensitive to powerful smells such as food odors, perfume
and of course, tobacco smoke. Other migraine sufferers are
sensitive only to the smell of tobacco smoke. And still others
find that they are allergic to smoke from cigarettes, cigars and
In all of these cases, the migraine sufferers reported
having either smoking or 2nd-hand smoke trigger an attack. In
some instances, the smoke was the only trigger, and in other instances
it was one of several triggers. Because of these findings,
both sufferers and medical experts agree that there is almost certainly
a link between smoking and migraine headaches; where exactly that
link lies is still waiting to be discovered. Of course, several
known side-effects of smoking are especially harmful to those susceptible
to head pain and headaches.
Some of these side effects are high blood pressure,
irritation or inflammation of nasal passages and sinus cavities,
and an increased risk of stroke. Nearly every health official
agrees that smoking is harmful for many physical conditions and
that migraine headaches are probably on the list of problems exacerbated