Can Smoking Cigarettes Really Trigger Migraines?

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There are hundreds of migraine triggers that lead to headaches, and smoking tobacco may be one of them. Some researchers believe that smoking a certain amount of cigarettes each day makes you more prone to migraine headaches, while others disagree that tobacco may actually benefit patients of migraine disorder. So, who’s right?

Can Smoking Cigarettes Really Trigger Migraines?

The smoking-migraine controversy

According to an article that appeared in the Journal of Headache and Pain, migraine sufferers who smoke at least five cigarettes per day are more likely to experience headaches, compared to nonsmokers who get migraines.

This was based on a study that examined 361 medical students, and found that among 58 who got migraines, 29% were smokers who noticed more headaches when they exceeded 5 cigarettes in one day.

However, earlier studies suggest that migraineurs who smoke should continue to do so, that tobacco may help to relieve anxiety, a common trigger of migraines.

To counter that argument, one may say that tobacco provides a false sense of relief from symptoms of nicotine addiction, and that the health hazards associated with smoking far outweigh any possible benefits.

Smoking migraine triggers

Besides smoking, other migraine triggers may include hormones, certain foods, unusual sleep patterns, or strong scents, including, yes, secondhand tobacco smoke.

Inhaled tobacco, whether firsthand or environmental, can trigger migraines by elevating your blood pressure, constricting blood vessels, and irritating the sinuses. It may also cause sinus headaches, which in turn may provoke a migraine headache that can last for days.

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To reduce the frequency of migraines, it’s essential to avoid triggers at all costs.

If you smoke, then cut down on cigarettes, or completely stop smoking, with the help of some migraine-friendly supplements, such as essential vitamins, minerals, and herbs that benefit migraine patients.

Good ones to try are vitamin B2 (riboflavin) for neurological sustenance, butterbur for sinus functioning, CoQ10 for antioxidant properties, and magnesium, which supports many biochemical reactions in the body that are linked with migraines.

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Smoking as a precipitating factor for migraine: a survey in medical students

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/freedigitalphotos