Taking allergy meds? You may be guilty of drugged driving
When the sneezing and itchy eyes just won't quit, many of us are willing to pop any pill for seasonal allergies so we can get rid of the symptoms and get on with the rest of our day.
But New Jersey medical experts, who've handled countless cases related to allergy medications over the years, are warning allergy sufferers that the side effects of these drugs can prove deadly behind the wheel.
"Reaction time can be slowed down, some of (the drugs) can make their eyes blurry, many of them are sedating," said Bruce Ruck, managing director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
And drugged driving — even when legal medications are involved — can be considered by law enforcement the same as driving under the influence of alcohol, the center noted in a news release.
The center recently received a call from a concerned father whose 17-year-old son began feeling drowsy and dizzy after taking a non-prescription antihistamine for his seasonal allergies. He had plans to leave his home for tennis practice, but his parents prevented him from driving.
"One of the best tips that we can offer people is to only use medication for the very specific symptoms they have," Ruck said. "So if you're having itchy, watery eyes, there are sometimes very specific eye drops that may be able to help."
A headache related to allergies, as another example, may be solved with acetaminophen, rather than an allergy drug.
A number of these medicines can interact dangerously with alcohol, the center added. The potential for nausea, drowsiness or fainting persists even when the drugs and alcohol are not ingested at the same time.
The center advises you speak to a pharmacist or health care provider for assistance in choosing non-prescription medications. The center can be reached anytime day or night for free medical advice at 1-800-222-1222.