Dizziness is when you feel like light-headed, woozy, or unbalanced. It influences the sensory organs, particularly the eyes and ears, so it can cause fainting at times. Dizziness is not a disease, but is a sign of different illnesses. Vertigo and imbalance may trigger dizziness, but these two terms describe distinct symptoms. Vertigo is defined by a feeling of spinning, just like the room is moving, and it can also feel like motion sickness or as if you are leaning to one side. Imbalance is a loss of balance or equilibrium. True dizziness is a feeling of light-headedness or almost fainting.

Dizziness while driving is very prevalent although its main cause is not usually that severe. Occasional dizziness while driving is not a big concern. However, if you experience recurrent episodes of dizziness for no particular reason or for a prolonged period of time, then you should contact your physician immediately.

Reasons of Dizziness While Driving

Migraine, medications, and alcohol are common reasons of dizziness while driving. 

Dizziness is also often caused by vertigo. Benign Positional Vertigo or BPV is the most prevalent cause of vertigo and the dizziness associated with it. This creates short-term dizziness especially when somebody rapidly changes positions, like standing up immediately from a lying down position. 

Meniere’s illness can also cause dizziness and vertigo. This leads liquid to build up inside the ear with related ear fullness, hearing loss, and tinnitus. An acoustic neuroma is another possible cause of dizziness and vertigo. This is a non-cancerous tumour forming on the nerve connecting the inner ear and going to the brain.

There are also some other possible reasons of experiencing dizziness such as sudden drop in blood pressure, heart muscle disease, reduction in blood volume, anxiety disorders, anemia or low iron, hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, ear infection, dehydration, excessive exercise, motion sickness and heat stroke.

In rare occasions, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, a malignant tumor, or other brain disorders may also cause the dizziness.

Signs of dizziness while driving

Individuals who are experiencing dizziness while driving may feel different feelings which usually include light-headedness or a feeling of being weak, a false sense of spinning, unsteadiness, loss of equilibrium and the feeling of floating or swimming. 

The dizziness may sometimes also be accompanied with nausea, vomiting, or fainting. If you have these symptoms for a prolonged period of time, then you must seek for emergency medical assistance.

The best time to contact your doctor about your dizziness.

If you still have repeated bouts of dizziness, you should call your doctor. You should also instantly inform your doctor if you are experiencing sudden dizziness along with a head injury, headache, neck ache, high fever, blurred vision, loss of hearing, difficulty in speaking, numbness or tingling, droopiness of the eye or mouth, loss of consciousness, chest pain and ongoing vomiting. These symptoms may show a severe health issue, so seeking medical attention as quickly as possible is essential.

What to expect during the doctor’s appointment

Your doctor may use a physical examination to narrow down the reason of dizziness and any other signs and symptoms. They will ask you questions about your dizziness, such as, when it happens, the severity of symptoms, in what situations and some other signs that appear with the dizziness.

Your doctor may also check your eyes and ears, conduct a physical neurological examination, monitor your posture, and conduct balancing tests. An imaging test such as a CT scan or MRI may be suggested, depending on the alleged cause.

How to treat dizziness 

Treatment for dizziness is focusing on the root cause. Home remedies and medical treatments can also control dizziness in most cases.

  • If you have inner-ear problem, it can be managed with medications and having a workout at home that is focused in balance control. 
  • Exercising to help alleviate symptoms of Benign Positional Vertigo. Undergoing surgery is also an alternative for patients whose Benign Positional Vertigo is not otherwise regulated.
  • Meniere’s disease is resolved with a healthy low-salt diet, regular injections, or an ear surgery.
  • Migraines are handled with medication and modification in lifestyle, like learning how to detect the factors that triggers migraine and can able to prevent them.
  • Medication and methods that reduce anxiety can assist with disorders of anxiety.
  • When dizziness is triggered by excessive exercise, heat, or dehydration, drinking a lot of liquids like water is great help.

What to do when encountering dizziness

  • As soon as you feel dizzy, sit down or lie down and rest until the dizziness is gone. This can help you in the possibility of losing your equilibrium, which can result in falling and having a severe injury. 
  • You can also use a cane or walker if needed for stabilization.
  • When going up or down the stairs, it is always advisable to use or hold the handrails.
  • Avoid sudden movement or changing of positions.
  • If you often experience dizziness without warning, avoid driving a vehicle or operating heavy equipment.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. The use of these substances can cause dizziness or even worsen it.
  • You must drink at least eight glasses of water a day, sleep for seven or more hours, and prevent stressful circumstances.
  • To help avoid dizziness, you should also eat a healthy diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins.
  • If you think that medication is the reason of experiencing dizziness, then you must inform your doctor about reducing the dose or changing to another type of medicine.
  • If you encounter nausea with dizziness, do not take over-the-counter medications like meclizine (Antivert) or an antihistamine. These medicines can trigger drowsiness that is why you should not use them when you need to be active or productive.
  • And lastly you should find and rest in a cool area and drink a lot of water if overheating or dehydration is the cause your dizziness.

If you are worried about the frequency or severity of your dizziness, always put in mind that you must consult to you doctor if symptoms persist.

 

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "The Underlying Reasons for Dizziness While Driving," in Medicalopedia, September 21, 2019, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/7789/the-underlying-reasons-for-dizziness-while-driving/].