The Effects Migraines Have On Your Driving Ability

We all know that trying to get through the day with a headache is no fun. While waking up with a minor headache might leave us feeling a bit irritable and annoyed, having a migraine can put us in debilitating pain. An intense migraine attack can make it difficult for someone to perform daily tasks and can even last from hours to days, according to the Mayo Clinic

Before someone has a migraine episode, they may have an initial period of symptoms warning them that an attack is about to occur, which is known as "prodrome." During this stage, a person might experience cravings for certain foods, constipation, increased urination, and fluctuations in their mood. Some people who are about to undergo a migraine attack can experience an additional stage called an "aura," which brings about abnormal visual sensations, like seeing flashes of light or bright spots. Someone who is having a migraine aura may also experience vision loss as well as other symptoms related to the nervous system, reports the Mayo Clinic. 

After the official onset of a migraine attack, the American Migraine Foundation explains that it's common to experience painful throbbing or pulsating sensations on one or both sides of the head. Other symptoms, like nausea, insomnia, anxiety, and increased sensitivity to light and sound, can occur alongside head pain. 

Since migraine symptoms can interfere with all sorts of daily activities, it's important to consider whether driving during a migraine attack is safe.

Why you shouldn't drive during a migraine episode

When someone's experiencing a painful migraine attack, one of the last things they would want to do is drive. It sounds way more enticing to rest in bed with the covers over their head, hiding from external light and sound. Nevertheless, there are places they might be expected to be that day, such as work or school, which may prompt them to momentarily consider driving anyway. 

Although it's not illegal, driving in the middle of having a migraine is not safe. According to Healthline, the migraine symptoms of nausea and vomiting can make it nearly impossible to concentrate on the road while driving. In addition, the abnormal visual distortions that appear during the aura phase of a migraine can alter your perception of your environment. The symptoms of brain fog and reduction of cognitive function can also make it difficult to focus on the road.

Driving during a migraine attack has been associated with an increased risk of motor accidents and driver injury in various studies, as reported by Healio. In a study conducted by Richard B. Lipton, M.D., and his colleagues, the patients reported that light, sound, and motion sensitivity, head pain, visual disturbances, and nausea had a significant negative impact on their ability to drive.

Additionally, it's considered unsafe to drive after taking certain migraine medications such as sumatriptan and lasmiditan, explains Healthline. For these reasons, it's safer not to drive during a migraine episode.