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How can nicotine cause headaches?

ANSWER

Nicotine is no longer considered a cause of migraines. 

Nicotine is a chemical in tobacco products. When you smoke, nicotine causes the blood vessels in your body to narrow. This reduces blood flow to your brain.

It was previously thought that this reduction in blood flow could trigger a migraine. However, no controlled studies or data indicate that this restricted blood flow is a migraine cause. 

Nicotine could make it harder for you to get rid of your headache once it starts. That's because the chemical affects your liver's ability to break down headache medicine. The result is that the medication you're counting on to give you pain relief won't work as well, just when you need it the most.

Cleveland Clinic: "Smoking and Headache."

American Cancer Society: "Health Risks of Secondhand Smoke."

National Institute on Drug Abuse: "Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products."

PubMed Health: "Meningitis."

Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute: "Smoking Cessation."

Mount Sinai Hospital: "Headache Triggers and Tips."

Mayo Clinic: "Cluster Headache."

The Migraine Trust: "Cluster Headache."

National Cancer Institute: "How To Handle Withdrawal Symptoms and Triggers When You Decide To Quit Smoking."

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar on April 2, 2019

Cleveland Clinic: "Smoking and Headache."

American Cancer Society: "Health Risks of Secondhand Smoke."

National Institute on Drug Abuse: "Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products."

PubMed Health: "Meningitis."

Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute: "Smoking Cessation."

Mount Sinai Hospital: "Headache Triggers and Tips."

Mayo Clinic: "Cluster Headache."

The Migraine Trust: "Cluster Headache."

National Cancer Institute: "How To Handle Withdrawal Symptoms and Triggers When You Decide To Quit Smoking."

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar on April 2, 2019

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Does carbon monoxide cause headaches?

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    This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.