Do you suffer from seasonal allergies, like I do? Well if so, and you hop into your car, you might as well be driving with a 0.03 percent blood alcohol content, at least according to a new Dutch study.
The study, which was just published in the July edition of the journal, Allergy, the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that seasonal allergies can impair driving. In fact, the study likened the effects of allergies to having a blood alcohol content of 0.03 percent.
Conducted in the Netherlands, the study sampled 19 individuals in their early 30s who suffered from tree-pollen allergies. To control the study, the subjects were tested in the allergy off-season and free of symptoms. Researchers gave the subjects antihistamine, a steroid nasal spray, or a placebo pill or placebo spray. Then the subjects were given tree allergens, grass allergens, or a placebo through a nasal spray.
The subjects then participated in a driving test in which a camera recorded how many times the subject drifted toward the center lane. This technique, called standard deviation of lateral position, is commonly used to assess drunk driving. During the last 15 minutes of the test, subjects were asked to recall words which had been played to them through the car’s audio system.
The subjects were then given a score, called an SDLP score, based on their performance. The higher the SDLP score, the higher the impairment.
Subjects who were given a placebo treatment had higher SDLP score.
Researchers concluded that the subjects who scored high on the SDLP scaled were impaired to a degree comparable to that of a driver with a 0.03 percent blood alcohol content.
Funnily enough, the symptoms allergies are strikingly similar to telltale signs of a drunk driver; bloodshot watery eyes, drowsiness, fatigue, and dizziness.