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Driving under the influence of allergies

Driving and allergies

A recent article in the Journal of allergy highlighted a small study done in the Netherlands involving patients who suffered from grass or tree allergies.  The patient’s and the study did a 60 minute driving test in a vehicle with the camera that recorded how often they veered toward the center lane.  These patients were tested during the prime allergy season when they were symptomatic and retested off-season when they did not have significant nasal and eye symptoms.  The results of the study showed that the driving ability seem to be affected by the allergy symptoms regardless of whether they use their non-sedating antihistamine and nasal spray.  The authors suggested that driving with acute allergy symptoms in season was the equivalent of the impairment of a blood alcohol level of 0.03% which is not far from the European legal limit of 0.5% for impaired driving.

The criticism of the study design may be the fact that only 19 people were tested.  Obviously, a a study showing many more people with the same results would be more convincing but is not hard to imagine that the severe spring symptoms involving the nose and eyes might certainly have an effect on driving ability.

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