Home F.A.Q.Advice and Tips Driving with Allergies

Driving with Allergies

by Mark Nolan
2 minutes read

The arrival of spring and good weather ends up becoming a nightmare for many people who suffer from the typical allergies of this time of year, known commonly as hay fever, but the effects of those allergies can have consequences when driving.

The most common allergies are environmental, especially those caused by pollen. Specifically, grass pollen is responsible for most spring allergies, especially in the north and centre of the peninsula. However, in the Mediterranean basin, the main cause of this discomfort is the parietaria, while in the south of Spain there are many cases of allergy to the olive tree.

The most frequent symptoms in patients with allergies are: eye irritation, nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy skin, itchy throat, fatigue and respiratory problems, among others, all of which undoubtedly affect driving. In fact, there are studies that warn that the risk of having a traffic related incident increases by 30% with allergic drivers.

As the DGT explains, sneezing for five seconds while driving at 90 kilometres per hour means stopping paying attention to the road for more than 125 metres. Bearing in mind that a sneezing crisis is normally associated with watery eyes, in the case of driving at 100 kilometres per hour, distance travelled without looking at the road can reach 140 metres. In addition, 50% of people with allergies suffer from sleep disturbances and 40% of those with allergic rhinitis suffer from daytime sleepiness, which also affects road safety.

The medication used to treat allergic diseases are antihistamines. These pills have incorporated in their assemblies, for a few years, a pictogram that warns of its effects on driving. In addition, in their leaflets they include a section that explains the effects, if they have them. It should be noted that antihistamines that use bilastine, ebastine, desloratadine, loratadine and terfenadine as active ingredients usually have no effect on driving, so they are safer if you are going to drive, but always check with the information leaflet, your pharmacist, or doctor, before driving whilst on any medication.

The overall advice, inconvenient though it might be, is if you are suffering an allergic episode and are affected by the symptoms, or medication, refrain from driving until it is safe to do so.

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