February Injury Prevention

Medication safety

At some point this year,  you or someone close to you will likely take some kind of medication for an illness or health need. This could be an over-the-counter or prescription medication.  Is it OK to drive if you are taking medication? In most cases, the answer is yes. The problem comes when either a single medicine you are taking or a combination of medicines affect your reactions. Medications may affect you in a manner that impairs your driving by causing:
  • Sleepiness/drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Slowed movement or reaction time
  • Fainting
  • Inability to focus or pay attention
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness

With the cold and flu season is upon us, many people will take medications to help with the aches and pains, as well as to help speed recovery.  It's worth mentioning that a cold can make you miserable for 7-10 days. Unfortunately, antibiotics will not cure a cold. However, many medications may help ease the symptoms. 

A common medication in cold preparations is an antihistamine like diphenhydramine (trade name Benadryl) or chlorpheniramine. This helps stop your runny nose, but it will make you very sleepy. Antihistamines are the same medicine found in over-the counter sleep aids. Dextromethorphan is an antitussive, or medication that helps you stop coughing. It can also make you drowsy, dizzy, or cause you to stagger when you walk.

Liquid combination cold and flu medications may also contain alcohol. The amount of alcohol contained in a recommended dosage is not enough to make you legally intoxicated, but can slow your reaction time. This mixture of medications and poor sleep that often accompanies illness creates a very dangerous combination for getting behind the wheel and driving.

Consider these factors and effects medication may have on your body, and be safe this cold and flu season, as well as throughout the year.

In good health, 
St. John Trauma Services


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