Driving with an allergy can increase the risk of having an accident during the journey by 30%. In fact, up to 75% of allergy sufferers admit that the allergy reduces their ability to drive.

Woman female driver uses a tissue to blow her nose while driving. Concept for distracted driving, multi tasking, health issues, colds, sick, medical issues

These data are worrying because 30% of the population suffers from some type of allergy and that each year more than a million people go to a specialist for the first time. Experts believe that by 2050 up to 50% of the adult population will suffer from allergic rhinitis (due to pollen, mainly grass). In addition, more than half of allergy sufferers suffer from sleep disturbances and 2 out of 5 of those with rhinitis also suffer from daytime sleepiness, which interferes with their day-to-day activities.

 

Driving “blind”

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According to the Acierto.com platform, suffering an allergy peak while driving (with repeated sneezing, watery eyes and constant runny nose), reduces the attention we pay to the road. For example, at a speed of 90 kilometres per hour, a five-second sneeze sequence would be equivalent to traveling 140 metres “blindly.” This distance increases if we add the moment before the sneeze (during the itching sensation) and the moment after until we regain our attention on the road.

According to the sources consulted by the platform, irritation and tearing are the most dangerous effects: they increase sensitivity to lights and the sun and the feeling of fatigue and directly affect vision, a fundamental sense for driving.

 

What if we take medication?

Despite the fact that correct treatment is key to reducing the effects of allergy, only 20% of those who suffer from it are treated by a medical specialist. The rest, 80%, either take nothing or self-medicate. The latter is dangerous for road safety because wrong consumption of drugs can alter our ability to drive. In fact, it is estimated that 10% of traffic accidents are related to this.

In addition, we must not forget that some very common medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness or loss of appetite, which directly influences our ability to drive.

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What can we do?

We have some tips to reduce allergy symptoms when we go by car:

Keep the windows closed.

Use air conditioning filters and change them as often as recommended.

Take care of the cleanliness of the vehicle because the dust contains mites, a cause of many allergies.

Wearing sunglasses helps reduce tearing.

If we are going to undertake a long journey, it is recommended to change clothes (especially if we have been abroad) and wash your face and eyes before leaving.

Avoid driving in humid areas or with a lot of vegetation (if possible) so that pollen does not accumulate.

Consult with an allergist and other specialists and avoid self-medication.

Do not consume alcohol because it can enhance the adverse effects of some medications indicated for allergies.

Do not smoke inside the vehicle so as not to aggravate the symptoms.

Try not to drive at dawn or dusk because it is at that time when pollen concentrations are highest.

Check pollen levels on the website of the Spanish Allergy Network, www.polenes.com.

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