05/28/07 #6 - Smoking as a Migraine trigger? Identifying triggers.

Ask the Clinician Health Pro
  • Full Question:
    I recently went to another headache and pain clinic. This was the fifth one. This doctor claims my migraines are caused by my smoking. I have had Migraines since I was 9 and didn't smoke then. I've never heard this before. What do you think? Geraldine.



    Dear Geraldine;

    First, the distinction between cause and triggers needs to be clarified. Migraine is a genetic neurological disease CAUSED by genetics and overactive neurons in the brain. Migraine TRIGGERS are physical things that bring on or “trigger” individual Migraine attacks. That said, smoking is a Migraine trigger for some people. The fact that your Migraines started occurring before you started smoking doesn’t mean that it can’t be a trigger for you now. Migraineurs often develop new triggers. To point out the obvious here – not smoking would let you determine if it’s a trigger for you now or not.

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    What steps have you taken to identify your Migraine triggers? Keeping a Migraine diary is an excellent way to do this. You can download a free diary HERE.

    A word about clinics – It’s better to select a particular Migraine specialist than to choose a clinic because it’s really the knowledge, skills, and philosophies of a particular doctor that can make a difference in your treatment.

    Bottom line: You need to work to identify your triggers. Once you’ve accomplished that, you can determine if any of them are avoidable. Smoking may well be a trigger for you now. The only way you’re going to be able to tell is to stop smoking and see if your Migraines are reduced.

    Good luck,
    John Claude Krusz and Teri Robert

    About Ask the Clinician:

    Dr. Krusz is a recognized expert in the fields of headache and migraine treatment and pain treatment. Each week, he and Lead Expert Teri Robert, team up to answer your questions about headaches and Migraines. You can read more about Dr. Krusz or more about Teri Robert. If you have a question for this section of our site, please click HERE. Accepted questions will be answered by publishing the answers here. No questions will be answered privately.


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Published On: May 28, 2007