We all know the perils of drinking and driving and driving while under the influence of illegal drugs, but have you ever stopped to think about driving while taking your prescriptions or an Over The Counter (OTC) medicine? Do you remember the stories of people “Sleep Driving” and “Sleep Eating” while on Ambien, well they were real! People take medications for all types of reasons: high blood pressure, insomnia, allergies, depression, anxiety just to name a few. Some common side effects from taking medicines are:

blurred vision
slowed movement
inability to focus or pay attention

Certain prescriptions can effect the way you drive and not just sleep medication either. Certain antibiotics, painkillers and even antidepressants can cause drowsiness and or dizziness. When a RX has side effects the bottle is usually marked with a sticker that says avoid driving or operating heavy machinery. It is also important to think about the effects of taking more than one medication.

Some over the counter medicines can effect driving. Most of the time allergy medications can make you feel sleepy or dizzy. The active ingredients in allergy medication are one of the major causes for concern. As a group they are referred to as antihistamines. There are a variety of types, with some of the most prevalent being:






All of the popular brands (Clairiton, Benadryl, Sudafed, etc.) use antihistamines. But the ingredient is not limited specifically to allergy medicine. You will find it in cough medicine, cold tablets, flu therapies, or just about any drug that “helps you rest.” Most over the counter sleep medications are a large dose of antihistamines.

Another group of medications that people tend not to think about impairing their driving are herbal/homeopathic remedies. Many of the herbs and nature based medicines can cause dizziness and drowsiness. Things like Valerian Root can lower the blood pressure and impair driving abilities.

Often people take more than one medication at a time. The combination of different medications can cause problems for some people. This is especially true for older adults because they take more medications than any other age group. Due to changes in the body as people age, older adults are more prone to medication related problems. The more medications you take, the greater your risk that your medicines will affect your ability to drive safely. To help avoid problems, it is important that at least once a year you talk to your doctor or pharmacist about all the medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – you are taking. Also let your professional know what herbal supplements, if any, you are taking. Do this even if your medications and supplements are not currently causing you a problem.

I hope that I don’t have to remind anyone that mixing alcohol with certain medications (rx painkillers, allergy medicine, antidepressants, anti-anxiety, etc.) is a BAD and sometimes lethal idea. So if you are taking medications take them as directed, discuss all side effects and as always DRIVE SAFE!!!

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