Does Nicotine Cause Headaches?

Types of Headaches

Throughout his or her life, a person can experience many types of headaches. The causes, symptoms, intensity, location and frequency are factors that distinguish one headache from another. While some can be painful and debilitating, most go away within several hours. However, certain kinds of headaches could signal a serious underlying medical issue, especially if they are recurring.

Read more to learn about common headaches and how nicotine use may be connected.

Primary Headaches

A primary headache is not caused by another health condition — the headache itself is the main medical problem. The pain usually stems from inflammation of nerves in and around the head. Additionally, swollen neck muscles or blood vessels could trigger this type of ailment.

Primary headaches can be influenced by lifestyle factors such as dehydration, stress, particular medications, hormones or exposure to certain foods. Common primary headaches include:

  • Migraines
  • Tension headaches
  • Cluster headaches

Secondary Headaches

A secondary headache is caused by a pre-existing condition that can activate pain-sensitive areas in the head or neck. The issues associated with secondary headaches can vary in severity, from a sudden caffeine withdrawal or sinus infection to a head injury or brain tumor. Treating the origin tends to bring headache relief.

Common secondary headaches include:

  • Allergy or sinus headaches
  • Caffeine-related headaches
  • Hypertension headaches

Can You Get a Nicotine Headache?

As a chemical compound, nicotine can affect the autonomic nervous system and cause the blood vessels in your body to constrict, which reduces blood flow to the brain. Nicotine might impact the efficacy of headache medicine. Nicotine impacts your liver’s ability to break down medication, which means it may not work as well for pain relief.

How to Get Rid of a Nicotine Headache

If you believe you have a headache linked to nicotine use, you can take basic measures to find relief. Instead of reaching for over-the-counter painkillers, here are some home remedies you can try for nicotine headache relief:

  • Hydrate
  • Exercise
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Try hot or cold compresses
  • Turn down the lights
  • Reduce your use of nicotine or decrease the nicotine strength