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Don’t Do It! Driving While Migraining

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Migraine  related image Photo: Getty Images

Driving through traffic can be stressful for some of us even when we are healthy and pain-free. You can never really tell when that reckless driver will cut you off unexpectedly at the front at a high speed, or start to flash their turn signal on the highway to push you out of their way.

In case you are driving while having an episode of migraine, I am sure the thought of being inadequately equipped with sharp reflexes to tackle such situations comes to mind.

It is believed that about one-third of the almost 30 million migraine sufferers in the United States alone experience migraines with visual aura. (1) A visual aura can occur any time from half an hour before the migraine pain is actually experienced to twenty four hours before a migraine attack.

Visual auras could include a range of visual abnormalities which are temporary in nature, such as appearance of zigzag lines in front of you, laser like (sharp and bright) lines, broken images, objects with shimmering light at its edges. The visual distortions could also include wavy images, inability to gauge margins, slow reflexes, lack of speed coordination between the turning of the head and visual processing during this turning. (2)

There is increased sensitivity to light and so during a migraine attack, a migraineur who is driving is likely to react unduly sharp to any headlights seen on the rear view mirror or light-flashing from cars on the opposite side of the road or unable to see the road ahead if someone is driving with their headlights on full-beam. It is easy to see why such we should keep off the roads while experiencing visual distortions brought on by a migraine attack.

For this reason, traffic laws in many countries do not encourage migraineurs to drive, especially those who experience migraines when, and due to the stress of, driving. As per the laws in such places, driving with any medical condition including migraines is unlawful and the traffic safety department has the right to monitor, restrict or even suspend driving privileges for such a person since it involves putting oneself and other’s at risk if responsible decisions are not taken. (3)

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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