Around one fifth of people in Britain have hay fever, but many would never consider this ailment as a reason not to drive.
However, new research carried out at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands has shown that hay fever can have the same adverse effect on driving ability as two or three units of alcohol.
Most sufferers will get itchy eyes, a runny nose or sneeze, but sluggishness and temporary loss of focus are also issues associated with the allergy.
“What we wanted to demonstrate with this research is that doctors should be aware that in addition to informing patients of the risks of hay fever, they should be advising them to treat their condition.”
According to Bernd Kremer, doctor and leader of the Maastricht University study, these effects on sufferer’s cognitive functions reduce their ability to control a vehicle. Kremer believes doctors should make allergy sufferers aware of the dangers:
“What we wanted to demonstrate with this research is that doctors should be aware that in addition to informing patients of the risks of hay fever, they should be advising them to treat their condition,” the Independent reports him as commenting.
The research involved 20 hay fever sufferers completing two driving tests outside of hay fever season. One involved the participants using a nose spray containing a placebo and the other a nose spray with an allergy-inducing substance.
Specialised measuring equipment was then used to calculate the difference in trajectory from the ideal path and the actual path taken.
When the symptoms were induced the results showed the drivers deviated further from the ideal path, the same as someone with a blood alcohol content of 50mg per 100 ml. This is the legal limit in most European countries and close to the UK’s limit of 80mg per 100ml.
The researchers have recommended that drivers suffering from hay fever use an anti-allergy medication, which largely restores their driving skills – though care should be taken to ensure to choose medication that would make the user drowsy.
Do you suffer from hay fever? Do you find it has an adverse affect on your driving? Have your say below.