For hay fever sufferers, the forecast for hot and sunny weather is a double-edged sword, because the pollen count is likely to be very high.
At best, hayfever is a summer irritant that sufferers could do without, but it can also mean the difference between staying indoors or going outside. For drivers, the issues extend to more than just sniffing and sneezing behind the wheel.
Which is why road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging motorists who take hay fever remedies to check their medicines carefully before getting driving.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “Some medicines, including those used to treat hay fever, can have an effect on your ability to drive safely. They could make you tired, dizzy or groggy, and they can compromise your vision and reaction time.
“That’s why it’s so important to check with your GP or pharmacist, and to read any warnings contained on the labels of the medicines you plan to take.
“The same road traffic laws apply to therapeutic drugs as to illicit substances, so if your driving is impaired and you cause a collision, you risk prosecution and the loss of your licence.”
Advice for hay fever sufferers
GEM has issued a safety checklist for drivers who take hay fever medicine, and the advice can be summarised as follows:
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist if a medicine could affect your ability to drive. Be particularly careful if you are using a medicine for the first time.
- If you experience potentially dangerous side effects from a medicine, don’t drive. Organise a taxi or a lift from a friend if you need to travel.
- If you find a particular medicine is making you sleepy, consider asking if there is a non-sedating alternative available.
- It’s not just prescription medicines that can cause drowsiness and other potentially dangerous side-effects. So, check with your pharmacist if you plan to use an over-the-counter drug.
- If you’re unsure about the warning given on the medicine you’re using, ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any risks before you drive anywhere.
Last summer, a study by Confused.com found that 58 percent of drivers who suffer from hay fever said they had driven a car shortly after taking medication, even though many remedies can impair performance behind the wheel.
A worrying 10 percent said that had noticed adverse effects of taking prescription drugs.
It is illegal to drive if you’re unfit to do so because you’re on legal or illegal drugs, or you have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood.
Over-the-counter medication is covered by the same drug-driving laws as illegal substances such as cocaine and cannabis, so drivers are advised to consult the government website for a list of prescription medicines affected by the legislation.
If in doubt, talk to your pharmacist and always read the label.