Hay fever real danger when driving
“Hay fever is not only unpleasant, but also particularly dangerous when driving a car”, warns Belgian traffic safety institute Vias. It gives an increased risk on accidents, similar to the effects of 0,5 per mill alcohol in the blood.
When spring is in the air hay fever is back too. In Belgium 10% to 20% of the population suffers from the disease this time of the year. Typical symptoms of hay fever or pollen allergy are constant attacks of sneezing, watery eyes, blurred vision, a red and runny nose…
Fortunately there is good medication for it, and a lot of people are taking antihistamines this period of the year, but they can also include risks. Antihistamines of the first and second generation, in particular, can make you dizzy, cause sleepiness, loss of concentration, they can slow down psychomotion or cause blurred vision.
Drivers therefore should take care and check the information about side effects of their medication in the enclosed information leaflet.
Combination with alcohol
Risk is highest in the beginning of the treatment, especially when a larger dose is taken than prescribed. Also a combination with other medication or with alcohol should be avoided or limited when taking antihistamines.
A recent study of the university of Maastricht (Netherlands) has shown that people suffering from allergic rhinitis drive less well during a crisis. Twenty people suffering from hay fever were tested by giving them driving tests.
For the first tests participants got a nasal spray containing a placebo, the second test they got a spray with a substance triggering an allergy. Scientists discovered that with the allergy inducing spray the human test subjects deviated from the optimal way. This was not the case with the placebo.
The deviation was linked with an increased risk on accidents, similar to the effects of 5 g of alcohol in 10 ml blood, or the legal limit in Belgium.
Vias’ spokesman Benoît Godart recommends to ask for a pollen filter when buying a new car, to keep the windows closed and also close the ventilation circuit in the car to avoid symptoms of pollen allergy. “Wearing glasses and vacuuming the car regularly might help too.”