Hay fever advice not to be sneezed at

Fields of rapeseed looks very colourful from the air but are not so pleasant to drive through for ha

Fields of rapeseed looks very colourful from the air but are not so pleasant to drive through for hay fever sufferers. Photo: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

Blog: Blue skies, warm weather, bright sunshine... runny noses, itchy eyes and sneezing. Hay fever sufferer and motoring editor Andy Russell says summer has its setbacks.

While most people welcome the warm, dry weather of spring and summer, it can be a mixed blessing for those of us who suffer with hay fever.

A runny nose, itching, streaming eyes, headache and constant sneezing are just a few of the symptoms hay fever sufferers deal with during the summer and they can affect motorists in a number of ways with Dutch experts warning that driving with hay fever can cause the same effects as drinking a pint of beer or large glass of wine.

One in four people in the UK are affected by hay fever to some extent, according to the NHS, which is usually cause by pollen from grass and trees rather flowers.

I never suffered from hay fever until I was mid 30s when, after two of three weeks of having the 'snuffles', I eventually saw the doctor who told me it was hay fever – something that had not troubled me until then.


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Fortunately, taking one simple over-the-counter tablet every day keeps the symptoms at bay but I did suffer on an motorbike ride on a still evening which took me between fields of bright yellow flowered rapeseed which left my eyes feeling prickly and my throat tickly.

So what can hay fever sufferers do to make summer in the great outdoors more enjoyable and be safer to drive?

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IAM RoadSmart's head of driving and riding standards Richard Gladman has this advice about what you can do to better cope with hay fever before taking to the road.

Try to minimise the effects by ensuring your car is clean and dust free and that you operate the air conditioning or ventilation to your advantage, making use of air recirculation where possible.

For anyone who hasn't been diagnosed with hay fever, and is feeling under the weather, avoid driving or riding and arrange to see your GP as soon as possible. What you might think is just a slight cold can become a major distraction – so get it checked before it gets worse.

While over-the-counter medicines will help with a runny nose and sneezing symptoms, a lot of these tend to contain codeine, which can blur vision and make you feel drowsy – check with your GP what the best course of action is.

Your GP may advise you to take anti-histamines to control the symptoms, but make sure you take the non-drowsy ones. If you're unsure, read the leaflet or speak to your pharmacy for more advice.

If you need to get somewhere but don't feel well enough to drive or ride then see if someone you know can take you and drop you back. Whatever you do don't take yourself – you may just end up sneezing and travelling up to 50ft with your eyes closed and losing control of your vehicle!

'If you are stopped by the police after taking a hay fever remedy and driving while impaired you could find yourself falling foul of drug driving regulations,' he warned.

'Be sure to check the medication thoroughly and see if it is suitable. But, most importantly, concentrate on your route to recovery so you can get back on to the road sooner rather than later.'

Has suffering from hay fever affected your driving or do you have any advice about remedies? Email motoring@archant.co.uk

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