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Romancing the Smoke: Oy, My Aching Head

Romancing the Smoke: Oy, My Aching Head

By Katie / June 21, 2012
If you’re just tuning in to Romancing The Smoke, this is a blog following my journey to becoming a hookah know-it-all. If you’re also a beginner, or a pro who wants to offer some advice, then I hope you’ll follow along!
Quick, pull up Web M.D. and type in these symptoms: headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound. According to Dr. Internet, I'm sorry to tell you that you could be afflicted with everything from a brain aneurysm to diabetic ketoacidosis. However, if you just smoked some shisha, you might want to get a second opinion from Dr. Hookah because you're probably suffering from the dreaded 'hookah headache'.

For hookah newbies like me, feeling this way after a hookah session can be unexpected and uncomfortable, especially if you don't understand why it happened this time when you were fine in the past. But don't fret, it's a fairly common occurrence akin to a hangover - and just like curtailing your J?ger intake can keep away a hangover, hookah headache can also be avoided.
So if it's not in fact a brain aneurysm, then what the heck is causing it? Well, there are a few possibilities:
There is a lot of preparation that goes into a successful hookah session. That includes preparing the hookah and the shisha, but it also includes preparing your body. You need to make sure that you have recently eaten a substantial meal and have drank plenty of water leading up to a hookah session. I would suggest that you keep water with you during the session, as well. Fending off dehydration is the most important thing that you can do.
2) What's Going On Inside This Body of Mine?
Part of the reason why you should eat before smoking has a lot to do with the biological reaction that shisha creates within your body. The smoke is tasty and it makes you feel mellow - but why? The "buzz" that you get from tobacco is from nicotine which is an alkaloid found in many members of the nightshade family, including tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants. Smoked in short inhales, it releases adrenaline and other stimulating chemicals in your body. When smoked in long, full breaths nicotine causes a release of dopamine and slows down nerve impulses, creating a sedative effect. There are multiple other chemical reactions occurring, and every person's level of sensitivity will differ. If your body has not received adequate nutrition prior to introducing increased levels of nicotine to your system, then the rate of absorption into your bloodstream will effect how your body will process its reaction to the nicotine.
3) Whoa, Nelly! Slow it down.
Hookah is supposed to be a calming, relaxed activity to be taken at a slow pace. So if you're sucking on that hose every 10 seconds, you just might be smoking too much, too fast. Reign it in, friend. Enjoy yourself. Too much nicotine flooding your system will cause your body to react negatively. Some people experience this feeling even if they are using the hookah in moderation. If your body isn't accustomed to nicotine use, or if you're highly sensitive,   then you might want to try smoking nicotine-free, herbal shisha. It's also important to make sure that your shisha isn't burning. If the heat is too high, the likelihood of feeling ill while smoking will increase.
Let's say that you did not heed my genius advice, and you find yourself with a headache and you're dry heaving at the thought of a hookah hose - what now? Drink some water, get fresh air, take headache medicine, eat food, put a cool cloth on your face, and most of all stop smoking until you feel better. This is not the time to rally and push through - just lay off and lay low until you recover and can figure out what caused it. If the symptoms persist and/or get worse, seek medical attention immediately. Have you ever had a hookah headache? Please share your personal stories and antidotes - we're all learning together!
Until next time, happy smoking! -Katie
To see tutorial videos on this subject, and others, check out our How-To Playlist on YouTube!

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