People who smoke can experience cluster headaches, migraines, or trigeminal neuralgia. These types of headaches can be linked to smoking itself, quitting smoking, or secondhand smoke.
Tobacco-based products contain nicotine and other toxic substances. These may trigger changes in the brain, causing a person to experience a headache. Depending on the type of headache, some people may experience accompanying symptoms such as nausea and fatigue.
Certain medications, lifestyle changes, and relaxation techniques can help alleviate headaches that result from smoking. A doctor can best advise a person on how to treat severe or recurring headaches.
Keep reading to learn more about how smoking can cause headaches, the types of headaches it may cause, and how to treat them.
Cigarettes contain many toxic substances, which may cause a person to experience headaches.
Nicotine, a highly addictive substance that is present in tobacco smoke, may also
According to the
Smoking has links to many types of headaches:
Cluster headaches are severe headaches on one side of the head. They occur in cycles lasting 15 minutes to 3 hours each.
Cluster headaches can cause symptoms such as:
- tearing in one eye
- nasal drainage
- facial swelling
- eyelid droopiness
Migraines are more than just headaches, and the symptoms can vary from person to person. Typically, migraines occur in four phases. Possible symptoms include:
- head pain
- vision problems, such as seeing flashing lights
- high sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells
- nausea and vomiting
A person experiencing trigeminal neuralgia can feel an intense, stabbing, electric shock-like pain that affects the nerves in the lower face, jaw, and nose and above the eye.
Quitting smoking can improve a person’s health and may help reduce headaches that a person experiences as a result of smoking. However, an
Also, headaches can be a side effect of quitting smoking.
People may try nicotine replacement therapy to gradually wean themselves off nicotine and avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. There are
- nasal spray
According to the
- coenzyme Q10
Although the evidence is inconclusive, some people may also find relief through therapies such as:
- relaxation techniques
- spinal manipulation
- tai chi
Some people can get headaches from secondhand smoke.
A headache after secondhand smoke exposure can have many possible causes, such as:
- the smell of cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke
- an allergic reaction to the smoke
- various chemicals present in the smoke, such as:
Yes, and quitting cold turkey can cause more severe withdrawal symptoms.
For some, smoking can lead to nicotine dependence, which makes it difficult to stop smoking.
A person who is trying to quit can use nicotine replacement therapy that gives them a low dose of nicotine without any of the other toxic chemicals typically present in cigarettes. This can help reduce the withdrawal symptoms a person may experience when quitting, such as bad moods and cravings.
However, headaches are one possible side effect of nicotine replacement therapy. For example, a medication called bupropion (Zyban) can help a person stop smoking but may cause headaches as a side effect.
Tips to relieve headaches that result from stopping smoking
When nicotine withdrawal causes headaches, a person can try a range of methods to manage the pain,
- staying hydrated by drinking enough fluids
- being physically active, which can also help heal the lungs after years of smoking
- doing breathing exercises
- trying relaxation techniques such as meditation
- avoiding situations or activities in which they previously used tobacco products
- using over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen
However, nicotine replacement therapy may reduce the effectiveness of any pain medication a person takes.
Someone with a condition such as cluster headaches or migraine can ask their doctor about available prescription medications to manage these specific types of smoking-related headaches.
E-cigarettes may also
Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Different products
E-cigarettes may also contain volatile compounds that can cause headaches and other potentially dangerous health effects, such as:
- irritation of the eye, nose, and throat
- damage to various body systems, such as the liver, kidneys, and nervous system
People should consult a doctor if they use tobacco and have frequent headaches. This is especially important if the headaches significantly affect their lives and do not improve or worsen with at-home treatment.
Any headache that occurs after a head injury and is sudden and severe or accompanies symptoms of a serious medical condition — such as a stroke or meningitis — requires immediate medical attention.
Smoking has links to several types of headaches, including cluster headaches, migraines, and trigeminal neuralgia.
Quitting smoking can be beneficial in treating headaches. However, going cold turkey may make withdrawal headaches worse. Nicotine replacement therapy may help alleviate the symptoms.
A person can support their effort to quit by using relaxation techniques, staying well hydrated, and staying physically active.