The Potential Dangers of Cold Medications and Driving | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

When fall arrives, it is a good bet that cold and flu season isn’t far behind. Medical professionals recommend that people get their flu vaccinations in October before the different strains of flu begin to make their rounds. Unfortunately, flu shots will not protect you from getting colds and other infections that often arrive this time of the year.

Many people use different over-the-counter medications and prescription medications to treat cold symptoms, such as coughs and stuffy noses. And although these medications can help ease some of these symptoms enough to make it through work and other commitments, it is critical for people who take these drugs to realize that even over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can have side effects that could affect a person’s ability to drive.




Most of us know when we are coming down with a cold and reach for cold remedies and cough medicines to help control the symptoms. In fact, according to statistics from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), approximately 80 percent of adults use OTC medications when they first begin experiencing symptoms of cold or flu. The problem with many cold medications, however, is that they can cause dizziness, drowsiness, impaired judgment, and a reduction in reaction time, all side effects that can cause a dangerous situation if the person gets behind the wheel of their vehicle. Some of the medications to avoid if you are going to be driving include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Couch medicines
  • Decongestants
  • Pain relievers
  • Cold and flu relief multi-symptom medications and alcohol

This is also a good reminder that there are other types of medications that can have dangerous side effects when the person taking them is driving:

  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • High blood pressure and heart disease medications
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Narcotic pain pills
  • Sleep medications, which can impact driving abilities the next day

It is also important to be aware of possible drug interactions, too, for both prescription and OTC medicines. While on medication may not have any side effects when taken alone, they could cause an adverse reaction when combined with other types of mediations. This is why you should always discuss any potential issues with your doctor or pharmacist.

 Call a North Carolina Injury Lawyer Today

Drivers who choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle when they are drowsy from medication are just as negligent as drivers who drive after drinking or a person who texts while driving. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, contact a seasoned North Carolina car accident attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have.

Our Carolinas personal injury lawyers have built a solid reputation for aggressively advocating for our clients in obtaining the compensation they deserve for their injuries. Our legal team is made up of skilled negotiators who have decades of combined injury law experience dealing with insurance companies, yet we also will not hesitate to pursue litigation if the insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith.