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%.
Several types of migraine medicines can help prevent the piercing pain of migraines, including:
Beta-blockers such as Inderal (propanalol) and Toprol (metoprolol), which relax blood vessels
Calcium channel blockers such as Cardizem (dilatizem) and verapamil, which reduce the amount of narrowing (constriction) of the blood vessels
Antidepressants such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline -- tricyclic antidepressants which have been shown to be effective in preventing migraines.