Studies have found that driving with allergy symptoms can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Symptoms, such as fatigue, sneezing, and watery eyes, have been found to increase the incidence of car accidents.
Allergic rhinitis affects about 30 percent of adults. People with allergy symptoms continue to engage in their daily activities, including driving. However, studies have shown that allergic rhinitis may decrease people’s cognitive function, especially when they perform longer-lasting tasks such as driving. There are also suggestions that allergic rhinitis may affect the psychomotor functions of the individual, although its impact on driving performance is not yet clear.
A Netherlands study concluded that allergy symptoms can impair driving abilities in the same manner as high concentrations of alcohol in the blood. The studies also found that when allergic reactions are treated with antihistamines, the impairment is significantly diminished.
Patients with allergic rhinitis must take their prescribed medications to help control their symptoms and eliminate dangerous complications. Most of the seasonal allergy medications work best when administered before the onset of the symptoms. Being consistent with allergy medications will bring the best results. For patients who suffer from allergy symptoms over the span of three to four months per year, allergy immunotherapy may be in order, either through allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops).
The most common cause of allergic rhinitis is airborne pollen. Knowing the pollen count in your area can help you take precautions to prevent allergic reactions. Check with the National Allergy Bureau for a daily pollen count.
During allergy season, when the pollen count is high, you can take the following steps to avoid allergic reactions:
- Keep all windows in your car closed when driving.
- Set your air conditioner to re-circulate to keep it from drawing in pollen-rich air from the outside.
- Limit your exposure to the outdoors when the pollen count is high.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen.
Take allergy symptoms seriously. When you don’t feel well, take a sick day, rest at home, and be faithful with your allergy treatment.