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Cryotherapy:  Ice Relief for Migraine Headaches
An Optical Migraine FAQ
Migraines and Pregnancy
The Art of Massaging Migraine Headaches
Migraine Headaches and the Weather
Menstrual Migraines
Migraines and the Smoking Connection
Well-Known Migraine Triggers
The Migraine-Aspartame Connection
Stress & the Migraine Sufferer
Sexually-Triggered Migraines
Eye Problems & Migraines
Fragrance Migraine Triggers
Treating Menstrual Migraines
Migraine Treatment:  A Natural Approach

Migraines and the Smoking Connection

It is, 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 limited.

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 pipes.

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 by smoking.


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