Americans use a lot of medicines, both prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, as revealed by a recent study published in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Seven out of ten people take at least one prescription drug medication. More than half of Americans take two prescription medications; and 20 percent of Americans are on at least five prescription medicines. Furthermore, the Mayo Clinic study results only focused on prescription drug use. The numbers would undoubtedly be even higher if the data included the use of count over-the-counter medications (or OTCs for short).
While OTC medications can be obtained without a doctor’s prescription, they are still medicines that can cause serious side effects. That is why each OTC medicine has a “Drug Facts” label printed on the packaging. This labeling identifies potential risks of use and side effects, including sedation, sleepiness, or drowsiness, as well as dizziness or mental fogginess.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, these are some of the most common types of non-prescription medications that can cause drowsiness or impaired driving:
– Antihistamines – antihistamines are used to treat allergy and cold symptoms such as congestion, runny nose, sneezing, itchy or swollen nasal passages, itchy or runny eyes, and hives or other skin rashes. They can cause drowsiness, lack of focus, and slowed reaction.
– Antidiarrheals – these medicines treat or control symptoms of diarrhea. They can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and tiredness.
– Anti-emetics – anti-emetics work on the brain to control nausea and vomiting. They appear to work by blocking messages that go to the brain. They can cause lack of focus and drowsiness.
For individuals who plan to drive after taking an over-the-counter medication, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends checking the Drug Facts warning label to look for information about operating a motor vehicle or machinery while using the medication. The FDA has specifically “warned” drivers about the following “active ingredients”:
How OTC Medications Adversely Affect Driving Skills
Because over-the-counter medications can make a driver drowsy, these non-prescription medications can affect a driver’s ability to safely drive and operate machinery. That is why drivers need to choose medications carefully and as directed on the label. They also should not operate a vehicle until they know how the medicine will affect them.
According to Ali Mohamadi, M.D., a medical officer at the U.S Food and Drug Administration, OTC medications can adversely affect driving skills because “you can feel the effects some OTC medicines can have on your driving for a short time after you take them, or their effects can last for several hours. In some cases, a medicine can cause significant ‘hangover-like’ effects and affect your driving even the next day.” He continued by saying, “If you have not had enough sleep, taking medicine with a side effect that causes drowsiness can add to the sleepiness and fatigue you may already feel. Being drowsy behind the wheel is dangerous; it can impair your driving skills.”
Tallahassee Legal Help For Those Injured By Drowsy Or Medicated Drivers
In Florida, a driver can be guilty of negligent driving if he or she drives a motor vehicle in a careless or irresponsible manner that causes injury, loss of life, or property damage. At Fasig & Brooks, we help individuals in the Tallahassee and southern Georgia area who have been injured or suffered property loss due to negligent drivers, such as those who operate a vehicle when they are medicated or under the influence of any type of drugs (be it over-the-counter, prescription, or illegal). If you have questions about your legal rights to recover for personal injuries or damages you suffered in a car accident, please call our experienced personal injury attorneys today at (850) 222-3232 today, personalized legal attention for your claim.