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Headache Triggers and Smoking

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    Smoking and second-hand smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes can contribute to headaches for both the smoker and the non-smoker. Nicotine, one of the components of tobacco, stimulates the blood vessels in the brain to constrict (narrow). Smoking also stimulates the nerves in the back of the throat, contributing to headache pain.

    Usually, by removing the stimulus (nicotine), headaches will be relieved. Quitting smoking or reducing exposure to second-hand smoke is especially helpful for those with cluster headaches. In one study of people with cluster headaches, those who reduced their tobacco use by less than one-half pack of cigarettes per day found their headaches decreased by 50%.

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    Why You Still Get Headaches

    By Sari Harrar A tiny twinge tells Kelli Smith, 40, that The Headache is coming. "I feel pressure behind my left eye. Then my pulse starts pounding in my left temple. It feels like a bruise if I touch it," she says. "I get nauseous. The pain becomes so sharp I have to lie down in a dark room." Raw onion, red wine, cigarette smoke, motion sickness, an off-kilter sleep schedule, hormone swings, and even weather changes can set off the skull-busting pain that has tormented Smith since she was 17....

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    Allergy to smoke as well as odor sensitivity can also cause migraine headaches in some people. By avoiding situations or places where smoking occurs, headaches may be avoided.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on February 23, 2014
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