For some people, spring’s bounty of blooming flowers, budding trees, and freshly mowed lawns is a relief from winter’s gray skies and snow piles. However, for the 50 million adults in the United States who experience seasonal allergies, spring’s blooms and buds have them dreaming of snowflakes.
What most people don’t realize is that allergies can take a toll on your driving ability. We involuntarily shut our eyes every time we sneeze and between that and reaching for the nearest tissue, drivers can quickly get distracted.
Additionally, many of the over-the-counter treatments for allergies can cause drowsiness. Impaired driving is one of the leading causes of accidents, so take these steps to make sure you make it through allergy season without causing an accident.
- Read labels: When taking a new allergy medicine, make sure you are aware of the possible side effects as well as the correct dosage. Don’t take two pills just because your best friend says so–read the label or consult a pharmacist first.
- Beware combinations: If you are taking allergy medicine, avoid mixing it with other prescriptions as well as alcohol. Alcohol can heighten the drowsy effect of some medications, so avoid imbibing when you’re on allergy medication.
- Slow onset: Many allergy medicines take gradual effect. Even if you don’t feel drowsy right away, drowsiness may hit you minutes or hours after you take the recommended dose. Be aware of how your body reacts to the medication you’re on and plan your driving routine accordingly.
- Eat local honey: Honey harvested from your area is created with the pollen from local flowers. Eating this honey can help to slowly reduce your allergy symptoms to local pollen. This strategy is not a short term strategy. Much like allergy shots, this process builds up your immunity over time and can eventually limit your allergic response.
- Avoid allergens: To ensure safe driving, you can try to avoid the things you’re allergic to altogether. If you’re allergic to cats, avoid going to homes with cats. This way you can limit your exposure to allergens and reduce allergy symptoms. While you won’t be able to avoid every allergen, you might be surprised to learn that you can often drastically reduce your exposure to many of the most common allergens.
- Get allergy tested: It can be difficult to avoid allergens if you don’t know what you’re allergic to. Going to an allergist for an allergy test can be a good way to know exactly what you’re allergic to. Most people end up finding out that they were allergic to things they didn’t realize. In addition to environmental allergens, an allergist can test you for food and chemical allergens.
- Stay inside: If you’re experiencing bad seasonal allergies, you can try to stay inside as much as possible. Many trees, animals, and pollens contribute significantly to seasonal allergy symptoms. By using an allergy certified HVAC filter, you can reduce the number of allergens that make their way inside.
- Check local pollen count: For seasonal allergy sufferers, the local pollen count can provide some insights into allergies. If the pollen count is particularly high, many people will experience some seasonal allergy symptoms and sinus pressure.
- Use a face mask: If you must go outside during allergy season, you could try to use a face mask or a piece of fabric to limit allergy exposure. While you don’t need to do this all of the time, you should try to limit exposure to top allergens. For instance, if someone’s cutting the grass in the neighbor’s yard, covering your face on the way to your car can reduce your exposure.
- Keep tissues within arm’s reach: You can easily become involved in a car crash if you need to reach around inside your car to grab a tissue to blow your nose. To avoid this, you should plan on keeping tissues in an easy to access spot that won’t create an opportunity for distracted driving. Placing the box on the passenger’s seat or in the console can help. Some tissue companies even manufacture tissue boxes specifically for car cup holders.
- Try to blow nose at red traffic lights: As much as possible, try to restrict blowing your nose to only when stopped at red traffic lights and stop signs. While this isn’t always something that you can do, it will restrict the amount of distracted driving.
- Consult a pharmacist or doctor: When you have any questions about controlling your allergy symptoms, always consult a pharmacist or doctor.
Types of Allergy Medication
Not all allergy medications are in the same class. For allergy sufferers, this often means that you can take two different classes of allergy medications at the same time, if needed, to get relief. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist on which combinations are best for your specific allergy needs.
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Antihistamines reduce the histamines that cause allergy symptoms. Some popular allergy medications fall into this category. This includes Zyrtec, Benadryl, and Allegra. A few of these over the counter medications are known for making people very drowsy and there are warnings about not taking these medications while driving.
Corticosteroids are steroid hormones that can reduce inflammation caused by allergies. It can be a good medication to treat stuffy noses, sneezing, and runny noses. Some common corticosteroids include Nasacort, Rhinocort, and Flonase.
Decongestants are sometimes used to treat allergy symptoms. However, decongestants can raise your blood pressure, cause insomnia, and have adverse interactions with other prescription drugs, and over the counter medications that you take. This class of medication includes Allegra-D, Actifed, and Loratadine.
If you do find yourself in an accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to Kryder Law’s team of auto accident attorneys. We’ll not only set you up with expert legal advice, but we also have plenty of tissues on hand.