How To Deal With A Nicotine Headache When Quitting Smoking

 A man dealing with nicotine headache while smoking

Smokers fail to perceive when they become addicts. The urge for tobacco completely overpowers them and takes over their whole lives despite adverse consequences. The frequency and the quantity of cigarettes keep increasing, and before they realize they cannot free themselves from its punitive clutches. Some try to conquer their urge and choose a better life over the one they had immersed themselves in. A smoker’s life is uncertain, hazardous, and anxious. Quitting smoking can reverse the ills that you had decidedly planted in your life. Initial stages of withdrawal can shake your convictions, but just like everything in life demands planning, quitting a smoking addiction also works with an advanced plan. Before you plan to quit smoking, you should be privy to the physical, emotional, and psychological impacts that quitting cigarettes will have on your body. Having an advanced insight into the kind of behaviour that you may be impacted with will brace you towards a higher success in your decision. This is what happens: Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include headaches. Though these headaches can be nagging and painful, we will help you with some great ideas for coping with the initial hurdle.

What is a nicotine headache?

Nicotine headaches are outfalls of quitting smoking. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include headaches that happen from the body's craving for nicotine fed by various agents like cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, etc. Headaches can be of different types from cluster pain that lasts for about half an hour to forty-five minutes at a time. The pain is focused and severe and can get triggered many times in a day and last for weeks. Severe throbbing pains can occur and can be quite unbearable. The headache can cause insomnia and a deep craving for using tobacco again. Quitting smoking is a crucial decision, and giving into tobacco would defeat the objective and idea of giving up. Instead, there are various other ways of beating the temptation. We will discuss those with you as we go further.

What are the types of headaches associated with nicotine?

Nicotine headaches are common and are the side effects of consuming nicotine. The addictive quality of nicotine leads to physical dependency, and smokers often suffer from frequent headaches. Nicotine stimulates pain-sensitive nerves at the back of the throat, causing headaches. Tobacco products contain many chemicals that lead to headaches. The sooner you quit smoking, the faster you will relieve your body from headaches. While we have discussed briefly the types of headaches associated with nicotine, let us delve deeper into all the headache types that nicotine can cause.

Headache from tension:

The most common headache strain caused by nicotine is headache from tension. A constant, dull nagging headache on either side of the head, described as a “tight band”, causing muscle tension and stress is a common type of headache that most smokers will be able to relate to.

Headache from Nicotine withdrawal:

The decision to quit smoking is a great one, but it comes at a cost. While taking up smoking is easy, quitting is accompanied by withdrawal signs that are physical and psychological. Headache is a common sign and is quite intense and unbearable. Nicotine users resolving to quit at this stage can be quite irritable as anxiety and cravings with a constant headache will change their disposition. The good part is that this is transient and alters within a few weeks.

Cyclic or cluster headache:

Returning in cycles of multiple short durations, these headaches can be attributed to nicotine usage. They are quite severe with excruciating pain on one side of the head. When the headache subsides, it feels like you are in a headache-free period


Migraine is a headache that some of us are quite familiar with as this condition is not specific to smokers. But, migraines can get triggered by nicotine, and the attacks can be quite hard to endure. The headaches, as many know from Migraines, are followed by throbbing pain and are accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound

Headaches caused by Sinus:

Sinus headaches are also not unfamiliar, and people suffering from it know the extent to which it can disrupt your day-to-day work. Though sinus has nothing to do with smoking, smokers suffering from sinus are affected aggressively by the impact of nicotine. Sinus is characterized by pain pressure in the forehead, cheeks, and around the eyes

Overuse of medication: Headache relief through over-the-counter drugs is a common practice, especially for those who are addicted to nicotine. Overuse of these medications can lead to a chronic condition where the drugs do not help anymore to alleviate headaches. 

It must be noted that not every individual responds to nicotine in the same way. Some are directly affected with severe withdrawal symptoms on quitting smoking or continuing with nicotine; others may not react to weaning in the same way. The quitting process reaction is short-term, and the body may take some time to get accustomed to the sudden change but gradually adjusts to a nicotine-free life where a person can be free from all the side effects that nicotine inflicts. However, if individuals experience persistent headaches for weeks after the weaning period, it is best to consult a health specialist for a thorough examination of the problem.

How to Deal with Nicotine Withdrawal Headaches When Quitting Smoking.

 A woman dealing with nicotine Headaches while smoking.

We have read how nicotine headaches as a result of quitting cigarettes can completely stump your life, but remember endurance is the only way to beat the condition. Patience and endurance are required, and some lifestyle suggestions can help you cope with withdrawal better.

Let us see what you can do to comfort a nicotine headache.

Stay self-hydrated: Keep a bottle of water close by and sip from it as much as you can. Keep the water level of your body up to flush out the nicotine effects. Do not let your body be dehydrated as that would increase the intensity of headaches.

Meals are a must: Painful headaches can effectively drown hunger, but you must not let that happen to you. Eat four square meals that include a healthy diet, keeping your blood sugar level stable. Food is the best way to combat a bad headache; remember that!

Don’t overdo the coffee: To get out of one vice, do not nurture another. Your headache will not be reduced with excessive caffeine or tea intake. Keep them normal, and remember that headaches are a part of Nicotine withdrawal and will pass with time.

Unbearable pain, relieved with painkillers: If the pain goes beyond tolerance and prolongs for weeks, at times, over-the-counter pain relievers can be taken with recommended dosage or consultation from doctors. This should never be made into a habit.

Exercises, including deep breathing, will relax. Breathing exercises and meditation will help reduce the stress that exacerbates headaches. Ease the tension from your body and try to relax. Light moderate exercises will help improve the mood. Your doctor can recommend better exercises to help you improve your health to cope with nicotine headaches.

Sleep is essential: If the headache is not allowing you to sleep, a cold compress on the forehead and the back of your neck by a family member provides relief. It will invite you to sleep and address your headache better.

Keep away from headache triggers: Strong odours, strong light, and food that can cause flatulence must be avoided to beat headaches.

Consult a doctor: If headaches are persistent and prolonged stopping your regular activities, consult a doctor. They will recommend medicines and procedures for combating this condition effectively.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): Consider using NRT products like nicotine gum, patches, or mints as recommended by a healthcare provider. NRT can help reduce withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, while you gradually reduce your nicotine intake.

Never lose sight of your goal: Remember it is easy to fall in the trap of smoking again but stay firm. Taking NRT will help you treat withdrawal through small, regulated doses of nicotine in your body controlling headache and making your quitting journey manageable. Follow a plan and the course as directed by your health provider.

Family & friends are a huge support: In times of crises, who else will stand next to you, if not your family? The journey of quitting smoking can not be achieved alone. Sharing the changes in your body and expecting their help and support is natural.

Finally, patience, endurance, and the will to quit smoking are your strongest fallbacks at this time. The challenges of nicotine withdrawal symptoms may appear daunting but ease with time. They do not last forever, but your conviction to quit will have long-lasting effects on your body, finances, and family. So, take your decision seriously. If you find it difficult to cope up with withdrawal symptoms, reach out to a health professional for the best solutions