CHICAGO, IL – Everyone knows how dangerous it is to consume alcohol or drugs before getting behind the wheel; however, a drug that’s often overlooked is over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications. Some medications you may not think twice about have side effects that can put you and others at risk on the roadway.
Common Medication Side Effects
If you have recently taken medication, it’s important to check if you feel any side effects before getting behind the wheel. Some common side effects include:
- Inability to focus or pay attention
- Delayed reaction time
- Blurred vision
Some people may experience side effects while others may not feel any at all. Side effects can last for short periods of time or they may last for several hours. Stronger medications or ones that have an extended-release property can affect someone throughout the following day. Some medicines have a warning to not operate heavy machinery, including driving a car.
Medications That Can Affect Driving
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists drugs that could make it dangerous to drive, including:
- Opioid pain relivers such as oxycodone, codeine, and morphine or any product containing codeine
- Prescription drugs for anxiety: for example, benzodiazepines or Valium
- Anti-seizure drugs (antiepileptic drugs) like lorazepam
- Antipsychotic drugs, such as risperidone
- Some antidepressants like Zoloft or Lexapro
- Cold remedies and allergy products (both prescription and OTC), such as Nyquil and Benadryl
- Muscle relaxers like cyclobenzaprine
- Medicines that treat or control symptoms of diarrhea, such as Imodium
- Medicines that treat or prevent symptoms of motion sickness like Bonine
- Diet pills, “stay awake” drugs, and other medications with stimulants (e.g., caffeine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine)
- CBD products
Effects of Sleep Medicine
For people who struggle with insomnia and falling asleep, they may take medication to help them sleep. A widely used ingredient in prescribed sleep medication is zolpidem, which belongs to a class of medications called sedative-hypnotics. The FDA has found that medication that contains zolpidem, especially extended-release medications, can impair a person’s driving ability and daily activities the next morning.
People who take sleep medicine should talk to their doctor about ways to take the lowest effective dose.
How Allergy Medicines Can Affect Your Ability to Drive
Many people who have allergies, and for those who take medications containing antihistamines, these medicines can interfere with driving and operating heavy machinery, including driving a vehicle. Antihistamines slow a person’s reaction time, can make it hard to focus or think clearly, and make cause confusion or drowsiness.
It’s important to read the OTC Drug Facts label of medicine to understand warnings before consuming it. Avoid drinking alcohol or consuming other medications that contain antihistamines as it can increase the side effects.
It’s important to inform your health care provider of the products you are taking, including prescription, OTC, and herbal products. If you notice any side effects, let your doctor know about these. Always follow directions for use and read warnings on medication packaging and handouts from the pharmacy.
Involved in an Accident?
If you were involved in an accident by someone who was experiencing side effects from medication, please call our office today to learn your legal rights. The skilled attorneys at Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. have been fighting to protect the rights of accident and injury victims for more than 20 years throughout the Chicagoland area. Contact us today to learn more information.