Anyone has any advice for when you HAVE TO drive?

I have had MAV symptoms for 3 years now. No vertigo, but dizziness, difficulty concentrating, light sensititivity. I have periods where I am almost “normal” but sooner or later a trigger hits.
One of the things I have to watch out for is driving. If I am doing well, driving, if it´s pretty straight and with no abrupt altitude changes, is usually ok. But when I am not at 100% even a short drive can make things worse and set me back weeks.
Not being able to drive is limiting my ability to work and so I wanted to know if anyone had any insights on this. I was wondering for example, if I wear earplugs, perhaps this would help, as it would stop my body from being overloaded with too much sensory input. Also perhaps less prone to air pressure changes.
I also read somewhere that it is actaully better to drive than to be a passenger in the car. Does anyone have an experience with this? If you can´t drive, then you should at least be in the front seat and watch the road as much as possible. I also heard that you should have the window down always, but also read someone´s post where they needed to have the window up because of excess noise.
I also thought about taking a benzo just before driving, but the problem is they take way too many hours to wear off, so if one is driving regularly this is not feasible.

Any advice?


I have been having similar problems and everytime I try and drive I encounter dizziness due to the visual stimulation when I am looking out. If I can just focus straight ahead, I find I do a bit better. I also have dizziness when riding as a passenger when looking out of the car.

I have only driven a handful of times in the last three months and have had a bad experience each time. I’m worried I will get into an accident and will be blamed because of my dizziness.

I really don’t have advice, but would like to hear what others have to say about this also.

Good luck and I hope we both find some answers.


You may not be wild about hearing this, but . … Not being competent to drive, if I cause a crash I bloody well am responsible for it. I’ve pulled onto the shoulder when I realized I wasn’t doing well. Got out, breathed the fresh air, looked at greenery, and was able to get back in and finish the trip.
Other things: sunglasses, or removing sunglasses; opening the window, closing the window, heating, cooling, chewing gum, drinking water.
And shoot, yeah, cancelling, or using public transportation when available, or having my wife or friend drive, when I’ve been too messed up and had to get there.

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I agree about the sunglasses (I like them on) and trying to look straight ahead. Also changing the temp sometimes helps me. I take back roads so I can pull off easily, and if necessary I will take a benzo when pulled over, or a half dose before I leave so I’m not so sleepy. Sometimes calling somebody and talking to them will help me from panicking too badly.

Looking straight ahead is key - really just focus on the road ahead of your car (and of course enough around that to be safe) but try not to look to the sides etc. I actually find that talking to someone or keeping the radio on and singing loudly helps alot. I can still stay focused on the road but it distracts me from the dizziness. For me the worst part has been the panic attacks that might come while driving but for the most part I am able to push through the drive. I also use sunglasses all the time - even when cloudy.

Good luck!


I have to drive one hour each way to work. I give myself extra time in case I have to pull over. Now that it is dark earlier it’s worse because the oncoming car lights are a big trigger me. If I start to get dizzier or panicky I open the window, sing along with the oldies or make some phone calls, (hands free with bluetooth). Sometimes I can concentrate on breathing, slow in, slow out and I can talk my self out of the panic. But the dizzy is always there. And like everyone else here I am more comfortable driving then being a passenger. And I can’t just look straight ahead because this the deer rut in NJ and must keep a watch out which requires moving my head frequently.

Good luck and safe traveling to all who must drive! Take care,


I have a question for those that do drive while dizzy. What happens if you get into an accident because you are dizzy? Won’t you be blamed because of your illness? If you hurt someone else in an accident and your condition is revealed then there may be trouble. That is what I worry about and the reason I haven’t been driving.

In the UK, dizziness is a condition that you need to notify the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about. They then access whether you are fit to drive, in conjunction with your doctor/consultant. See: … /DG_185429

Karen, you probably know this, but . . . hands-free cell phones interfere less with driving that hand-held, but research still found a big increase in hazard, on average, with cell phone conversations compared to conversations with a passenger. The apparent reason is that a passenger means a second pair of eyes on the road.

Hi David…You are absolutely right. I probably made it sound as if I use the phone a lot but I do try and keep the conversations as short as possible and I often don’t answer the phone if the traffic is particulary horrendous. I find listening to the oldies (60’s on 6 Sirius radio) my best bet. Take care,


When my dizzi’s are bad in the car, I almost have panic attacks and nothing will help. I hate it. Sometimes I put my head on the headrest just so I stay in tune with the car. That seems to help. Highway driving is the worst for me. I can get very panicky quick on the highway. Sometimes I’ll pull off at the next exit and get out and walk around for a sec just to sort myself out and get back in and carry on. That helps a lot.


I can relate, Greg.

The other evening I was driving and running late, and found my neck getting stiffer and stiffer from my sense of needing to focus hard on the road and traffic. Like you, I finally pushed hard against the backrest, sort of reminding myself that I didn’t need to hold on so rigidly with my neck/shoulder muscles. I also rotated my head slowly from side to side while keeping my focus forward, a trick from the repositioning exercises that worked very nicely.

David and Greg…bad day today, too much computer work so my neck was really stiff and sore before I even got in the car. So I used your suggestions and pushed my head back into the headrest while keeping my focus. It helped! I felt less strain on my neck and less anxiety. I was a little too nervous to try rotating but maybe next time. Thanks for the advice. Peace,


Karen, I’m real glad you were able to help yourself by using the headrest. I would NOT recommend trying the rotation bit while driving unless you’ve already done this while sitting, while standing. In other words, try it first in a different context where there’s no reason for anxiety over what it’s going to be like.

Hi David…thanks for the advice. I do the rotating now whenever my neck is sore and stiff. Such simple little things and they really do help. Wow!


Well…when you’re really bad off, you can’t drive even if it seems you HAVE TO. I once had a sudden attack of violent vertigo when I was in the middle lane of an enormous freeway and had my baby in the back seat. That said, if I’m feeling semi-okay, I drive. Luckily a lot of people at my work live near me and know that sometimes I need a ride home and then back the next day.

I saw a vestibular physical therapist for awhile because I’ve lost most of my vestibular function. She gave me several useful tips to minimize dizziness. Try looking with just your eyes right before you turn your head; it helps to kind of tell your brain where you head is going. She watched me practice. You move your eyes only for a split second before moving your head.
I’ve also gotten a lot better at using my mirrors so I don’t have to turn my head as much. And like others say, focus your eyes on something a little farther down the road; often it’s a car in front of me. This is especially helpful when driving on looping freeway ramps; ignore the moving side rails and just watch the car in front. I doubt ear plugs will help. Also, I usually can’t handle having a window open. Another unrelated tip that I use all the time when walking is to concentrate on only one foot hitting the ground. So I think “right foot, right foot, right foot, etc” when my balance is bad. I thought this tip is counterintuitive, but it seems to work for me.

All that said, my husband often has to change his schedule because I don’t feel up to driving on the weekend. And thank goodness he’s a good grocery shopper!

One very important aspect of driving when it’s a struggle that I noticed yesterday: I’m less observant.
For instance: I almost creamed a car that was in my blind spot, because I wasn’t paying attention to the little spot mirrors glued on to my main outside mirrors.

I often have days when I just am too dizzy or lightheaded to drive. Fortunately my husband or one of my sons doesnt mind taking me to or picking me up from work even though it’s an hour each way. But I hate having to even ask. This MAV affects everyone and everthing in my life! And you’re right David, focusing does cause us to be less observant. I can only hope if we have to drive it’s with great caution. Be safe and listen to your symptoms,if your not sure don’t drive! Peace,