Objective.— To look at the smoking history of migraine patients and to determine if a history of cigarette smoking is associated with the development of cranial autonomic symptoms with migraine headaches.
Background.— It has recently been noted that a significant number of migraine patients may develop autonomic symptoms during their attacks of headache. Why some headache patients activate the trigeminal autonomic reflex and develop cranial autonomic symptoms while others do not is unknown. Cluster headache occurs more often in patients with a history of cigarette smoking, suggesting a link between tobacco exposure and cluster headache pathogenesis. Could cigarette smoking in some manner lead to activation of the trigeminal-autonomic reflex in headache patients? If cigarette smoking does lower the threshold for activation of the trigeminal autonomic reflex then do migraine patients who have a history of cigarette smoking more often develop cranial autonomic symptoms than migraineurs who have never smoked?
Methods.— Consecutive patients diagnosed with migraine (episodic or chronic) who were seen over a 7-month time period at a newly established headache center were asked about the presence of cranial autonomic symptoms during an attack of head pain. Patients were deemed to have positive autonomic symptoms along with headache if they experienced at least one of the following symptoms: eyelid ptosis or droop, eyelid or orbital swelling, conjunctival injection, lacrimation, or nasal congestion/rhinorrhea. A smoking history was determined for each patient including was the patient a current smoker, past smoker, or had never smoked. Patients were deemed to have a positive history of cigarette smoking if they had smoked continuously during their lifetime for at least at 1 year.
Results.— A total of 117 migraine patients were included in the analysis (96 female, 21 male). Forty-six patients had a positive smoking history, while 71 patients had no smoking history. Some 70% (32/46) of migraineurs with a positive history of cigarette smoking had cranial autonomic symptoms along with their headaches, while only 42% (30/71) of the nonsmoking patients experienced at least 1 autonomic symptom along with headaches and this was a statistically significant difference (P < .005). In total, 74% of current smokers had autonomic symptoms with their headaches compared with 61% of past smokers and this was not a statistically significant difference. There was a statistically significant difference between the number of current smokers who had autonomic symptoms with their headaches compared with the number of patients who never smoked and had autonomic symptoms (P < .05). Overall, 52% of the studied migraineurs had autonomic symptoms. There was a statistically significant difference between autonomic symptom occurrence in male and female smokers vs male and female nonsmokers. Each subtype of cranial autonomic symptoms was all more frequent in smokers.
Conclusion.— A history of cigarette smoking appears to be associated with the development of cranial autonomic symptoms with migraine headaches.