Risk of accidents from falling asleep: Anti-allergy medications can sometimes make you tired

Dangerous second sleep: Beware of medications for allergies

Many people who have a pollen allergy take antihistamines. These medications can make you very tired and promote a nap. The ability to drive is therefore enormously impaired. Affected drivers should therefore always seek advice from a doctor before getting behind the wheel.

Some medications encourage sleep in seconds

According to the German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB), around 16 percent of the population nationwide - around 13 million people - have a pollen allergy. Especially in spring, when pollen swirls more through the air, symptoms such as runny nose or itchy eyes appear in those affected. Untreated hay fever can develop fatally. Many allergy sufferers therefore take antihistamines. But these can make you extremely tired and promote a good night's sleep. Driving is therefore often severely impaired. This is pointed out by the German Road Safety Council (DVR) in a current communication.

Effects on ability to drive

Not only antihistamines, but also many other medicines can affect your ability to drive.

According to the manufacturers, between 15 and 20 percent of all approved medicines impair the ability to drive.

Above all, this includes antiepileptics, psychotropic drugs and some pain relievers, which often limit cognitive performance and cause latent fatigue.

However, many underestimate how much such drugs can affect the ability to drive a vehicle in a focused manner.

"Based on various expert opinions and scientific estimates, we assume that many traffic accidents involving medicines, especially psychotropic drugs, will take place," said Dr. Hans-Günter Weeß, board member of the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM), as part of the campaign "Beware of falling asleep!".

Clarify side effects with the doctor

Anyone taking prescription or over-the-counter medicines should always clarify possible influences on their ability to drive with a doctor or in the pharmacy.

This is particularly important before the first application, when increasing the dose, when changing over or when stopping the medication.

“Interactions with other medicinal products should also be taken into account, as they can intensify possible side effects such as reduced concentration and increased sleepiness,” adds Dr. Weess.

If you notice the first signs of yawning or heavy eyelids when driving, you should definitely take a break. It is recommended to combine this with a little movement to activate the circulatory system or with a short sleep of ten to 20 minutes.

Tips for drivers

According to health experts, it is also possible for pollen allergy sufferers to prescribe medication that does not normally make them tired.

In many cases it is recommended to treat the allergy in the long term anyway, for example through specific immunotherapy, formerly known as desensitization.

The affected person is injected with the allergen at regular intervals until the body no longer reacts to it. According to doctors, most patients feel better after around three years.

Until then, drivers should protect themselves from pollen. It is best to only use cars with air conditioning and to replace the pollen filter regularly.

It is also recommended to take off the jacket and stow it away in the trunk so that the pollen attached to it does not end up in the interior of the vehicle.

Furthermore, the window and sunroof should remain closed and the ventilation switched to recirculation mode.

The car should preferably not be parked under trees. Regular vacuuming of the vehicle interior, including the upholstery, dashboard and shelves, can also help. (ad)

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