The article was written as you see it (minus the bold blue of course), so don't get mad at me for "shouting" LOL

On a serious note, there was something about this on NBC 4 News last night, with full video, but I had pretty much died for the night by then. The pre-news hi-lites looked pretty interesting though.

Driving on Allergy Meds

Allergy medications, for tens of thousands of people they make springtime bearable. But there's a dangerous side to these widely used drugs, and consumer reporter Liz Crenshaw wants to make sure you know about them. Liz.

Jim/Doreen, spring brings a wonderful change of season...plus a head full of runny nose, watery eyes, and scratchy throat. So you reach for the Benadryl or the Actifed or the Chlor-trimeton. But do you know how these drugs really affect activities such as driving? We found out.

NBC INTERN AMANDA ROSSIE IS DRIVING THIS MORNING, BUT MAYBE SHE SHOULDN'T BE. THAT'S BECAUSE TWO HOURS AGO, AMANDA TOOK AN ALLERGY TABLET. THE KIND OF MEDICINE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE SWALLOW EVERYDAY...ESPECIALLY DURING SPRING ALLERGY SEASON.

Dr. Gary Kay, Washington Neuropsychological Institute
They're very effective, but in fact they go in your brain. So they don't just affect your skin, your nose, your throat, the areas where you want your allergry medication to work. They also are working on your brain, and not in a good way.

TO SHOW WHAT ALLERGY MEDS CAN DO, DR. GARY KAY...WHO RUNS THE WASHINGTON NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, GAVE AMANDA A SERIES OF DRIVING TESTS THAT REQUIRED BOTH SKILL AND CONCENTRATION.

SHE ALSO TOOK A BATTERY OF COGNITIVE TESTS TO SEE HOW WELL SHE COULD PROCESS COMPLICATED INFORMATION AND PERFORM DIFFICULT TASKS. ON THE ALLERGY MEDS, AMANDA'S DRIVING WAS IMPAIRED.

Amanda Rossie
Oh gosh.

SHE HIT 2 PEDESTRIANS AND A DOG. RAN OFF THE ROAD 4 TIMES. GOT A SPEEDING TICKET. AND WAS SLOWER BY A TENTH OF A SECOND IN REACTION TIME...THAT'S A FULL CAR LENGTH OF STOPPING DISTANCE AT BELTWAY SPEEDS.

AND DURING HER TEST BREAKS...YOU COULD CLEARLY SEE THE EFFECTS OF THE ALLERGY MEDICATION.

DR. KAY SAYS IT'S ALL BECAUSE OF THE SEDATING AFFECT OF MANY POPULAR ALLERGY MEDICATIONS SUCH AS BENEDRYL, AND EVEN OF PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS SUCH AS ZYRTEC.

Dr. Gary Kay, Washington Neuropsychological Institute
I want allergy sufferers to understand that allergies alone can affect your thinking, and if you're not careful, if you take a sedating antihistamine one that says "may cause drowsiness" that can make your functioning even worse.

THERE ARE ALLERGY MEDS THAT ARE NON-DROWSY SUCH AS OVER-THE-COUNTER CLARITIN AND ALAVERT, AND PRESCRIPTION DRUG ALLEGRA. BUT DR. KAY SAYS WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT IS TO UNDERSTAND EXACTLY THE EFFECTS OF WHAT YOU'RE TAKING.

The label for a drug that is sedating is going to say "May cause drowsiness. Use Caution when driving when driving or operating other machinery.

Believe it?

Believe it.

Liz Crenshaw
You should be able to drive safely on non-drowsy allergy meds. By the way, pilots are not allowed to fly if they've taken a sedating allergy medication such as Benadryl or Zyrtec. What's more Dr. Kay says that when autopsies are performed on pilots who have crashed...one of the most common drugs found is the active ingredient in sedating allergy medications. .

Copyright 2006 by nbc4.com.