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Driving with hay fever – what you need to know

Oh yeah, baby. Summer. Sun's out, guns out. We've got the windows open, the gleaming white shins are out and there's a few little sniffles beginning to emerge. That's right - it's hay fever season.

The NHS says around 20% of us are allergic to summer. But how many people check the side effects of what they're taking for it - and whether they're OK to drive?

The effects of hay fever:

  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy throat and nose
  • Coughing

The effects of hay fever tablets:

  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
Driving when you're experiencing the side effects of antihistamines is plain dangerous. Certain antihistamines and over the counter hay fever medications can also cause you to fail the driving drug test.

What you need to do

  1. Do your research

    Don't just charge into the chemist - crying - and scoop up the first hay fever tablets you see. While the non-drowsy antihistamines will usually say that on the front, the ones that cause drowsiness won't.

    Find out which tablets are most likely to affect your driving and AVOID.

  2. Read the label

    Duh. I know, but actually read it? Drowsiness and blurry vision when you're in charge of a death machine is not what you need, and you should definitely read the side effects on the leaflet to double-check.

  3. Be strict with yourself

    If the leaflet says take one, take one. I know it's tempting to keep upping it because your eyes are streaming and your nose is itching but if you're driving, that's not an option.

    If you've got antihistamine tablets at home but you now realise they can cause drowsiness, save them for when you're not driving. There's enough hay fever medicine on the market for you to avoid taking the risk.

  4. Find another way

    First thing you should do is get your air conditioning filter changed. Having the windows up is obviously going to help you out with the old pollen count but if you want your air conditioning on, you need your filter to be doing its job.

    You can actually get special pollen filters these days so next time you're having your filter changed (at your annual service is usual but don't wait if you're suffering!), ask if they have one that's particularly good for allergies.

  5. Updated: 18th May 2019