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Is allergy medicine leading to car accidents?

Driving while fatigued is one of the biggest mistakes a Michigan resident can make. Drowsy driving can result in serious and fatal car accidents, as driving while you are not alert is pretty much the same as driving while impaired. As spring is now in full swing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has decided to warn people that allergy medications can cause drowsiness--meaning people who take certain allergy meds should refrain from driving.

While not all allergy medications cause drowsiness, a number of them do. A number of antihistamines--such as Benadryl--can cause drowsiness as well as a slower reaction time and difficulty focusing.

In fact, even if drivers do not experience drowsiness from an allergy medication, they may feel generally hazy or mildly confused, which can be incredibly dangerous behind the wheel.

In addition to Benadryl (which is the drug diphenhydramine), Zrytec (cetrizine) and Claritin (loratadine) can also lead to drowsiness and other symptoms that make it unsafe to drive.

The FDA says that people should take allergy medications at night if it appears that they cause drowsiness. People should read the labels of these medications to be sure that they understand the side effects.

Additionally, people should avoid the temptation to take more than the recommended or prescribed dosage, and they should also follow directions about not mixing the medications with other meds or alcohol.

While dealing with allergies can be pretty miserable, the risks of being injured or killed--or hurting someone else--in a car accident should motivate people to learn about any medications they are taking and heed warnings about drowsiness.

Drowsy drivers who cause car accidents may be held responsible with a criminal and/or civil action.

Source: CBS News, "FDA: Allergy medications may make you too drowsy to drive," Ryan Jaslow, June 1, 2013

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