Is It Safe to Drive While Taking Antihistamines?

Of course you know better than to drive while impaired by alcohol, and you would never drive while using illegal drugs. But what about those over-the-counter remedies that bring relief from common ailments, like the flu, a cold, or allergies? One of the most common categories of drug given over the counter are called antihistamines, and they can definitely work to impair your driving skills. To understand why this happens, let’s talk a bit about what antihistamines are, and how they work.

When you have an attack of hay fever, it is because your body is producing histamines. Histamines are found in all humans, and most other animals. They serve a valuable function, aiding in digestion and helping to transmit messages from one nerve to another. When you come into contact with something you are allergic to, or when you develop a cold, your body goes into overdrive and produces too much of what is normally a helpful substance. Then, you need antihistamines to suppress the histamine production. The trouble is that antihistamines, in addition to easing the symptoms of your cold or allergy, can also have undesirable side effects.

Here are some things to consider before driving, if you have been taking anti-histamines:

  • Antihistamines can make you drowsy. In fact, if you looked at the ingredient list on the Nytol, Sominex or another brand of sleep aid you buy when you just can’t get to sleep, and compared it with your allergy medication, you would see that the ingredients are identical. The reason is simple – antihistamines make you sleepy. The corollary to that is that when you are sleepy, you are not alert, and probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car.

  • The effect of antihistamines can be aggravated by alcohol. Of course we hope that you are not in the habit of drinking and driving, but you might not realize that even a single glass of wine, coupled with an antihistamine, can make you seriously impaired. In fact, it can make you up to three times as drowsy.

  • OTC antihistamines are not adjusted for weight. The dosage in an over-the-counter antihistamine is geared toward the average person. If you are small, you will be more affected by an antihistamine than a larger person.

You could, of course, buy a so-called “non-drowsy” antihistamine, but many people report that, with this type of medication, they don't become drowsy but they do feel a sense of “nothing above the neck.” This isn't good if you are about to get behind the wheel. Our final word on the topic is, if you are using antihistamines, you should avoid driving.


Next Step

Schedule Oil Change

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Oil Change. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Oil Change reviews

Excellent Rating

(21,607)

Rating Summary
20,295
844
177
86
205
20,295
844
177
86
205

Kenneth

20 years of experience
649 reviews
Kenneth
20 years of experience
Volkswagen Passat - Oil Change - Venice, California
Kenneth was engaging, informative, and knowledgeable. He didn't perform one of the requested services because he said it was unnecessary, saving me money and time. 10/10 would and will hire him again.
Land Rover Discovery Sport - Oil Change - Los Angeles, California
Kenneth was on time (on Thanksgiving no less!) and got the work done in a timely fashion. Highly recommended.

Pierre

9 years of experience
183 reviews
Pierre
9 years of experience
Honda Civic - Oil Change - Boston, Massachusetts
My first time using this service and Pierre was awesome! He put my mind at ease and I will definitely be a repeat customer!
Toyota Highlander - Oil Change - Auburndale, Massachusetts
Great mechanic. Made everything easy - showed up right on time, was nice and polite, and did exactly what I needed on the car. Will keep working with Pierre in the future for sure.

Josh

16 years of experience
60 reviews
Josh
16 years of experience
Dodge Grand Caravan - Oil Change - Naples, Florida
He came, did the job quickly and let me know what is needed to keep my van running at its optimal level.
Ford Thunderbird - Oil Change - Naples, Florida
Josh was on time, stayed until he completed the job, very knowledgable. He pointed out that the also need a oil change, came back and completed that job. Very nice young man.

Rodney

36 years of experience
442 reviews
Rodney
36 years of experience
Porsche 718 Boxster - Oil Change - Rancho Cordova, California
Rodney was knowledgeable and professional! Changed the oil in my 2019 Porsche (which is not an easy task.) I am already recommending him to others.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

What Are the Dangers of Driving a Vehicle With a Broken Suspension?
Every car, truck, and SUV has a suspension, the collection of parts that holds the car off the ground, cushions passengers and cargo from bumps,...
The 5 Safest Used Cars You Can Buy For Under $20,000
The Subaru Legacy, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Chevy Volt, and the Volvo XC60 are five of the overall safest used cars you can buy for under $20,000.
How to Buy Good Quality Windows
High High quality windows on your vehicle not only make visibility better, but they provide a safety factor. Today’s modern vehicles all feature glass that is strong and breaks differently than typical glass. For the sake of this story, we’ll...

Related questions

How do I use the internal trunk release?

The internal trunk release is a safety feature that allows people trapped in the trunk to safely exit. If you are ever trapped in the trunk, simply pull down on the trunk release lever, which hangs from the inside of...

How do I set or cancel the engine immobilizer?

The engine immobilizer is an important safety feature that keeps your car from being stolen. The system immobilizes the engine to keep anyone from using unauthorized keys, or hot wiring your car to start it. The engine immobilizer will automatically...

What may cause the starter to engage when shifting the shifter?

Hi there. Check the neutral safety switch and the shifter circuitry. It is possible to have a short in the wiring causing the starter to engage while shifting gears. Look for any wires that may be shorting out with the...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com