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Could your medications cause a traffic collision?

In 2017, drowsy driving contributed to over 91,000 collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These crashes caused injuries to about 50,000 people and caused almost 800 deaths. Being tired can cause an accident when a driver falls asleep at the wheel, but even if the driver does not fall asleep, being tired can cause impairments that can lead to a collision.

When a drowsy driving collision occurs, some people may assume that the driver stayed up too late the night before or has an untreated sleep disorder, like sleep apnea. However, there can be other causes for a driver’s drowsiness.

Many medications can affect sleep or cause drowsiness

One often overlooked cause for drowsy driving accidents is medication. If you feel tired during the day after getting plenty of sleep, the cause for your exhaustion could be your medications. Over-the-counter or prescription medications can affect the sleep you get at night, and they could also have side effects that make you drowsy during the day.

Many different types of medications can affect sleep or cause drowsiness, including:

  • Beta-blockers
  • Antidepressants
  • Diuretics
  • Nicotine replacement products
  • Antihistamines
  • SSRIs
  • Thyroid hormone
  • Opioids
  • Anticonvulsants

Your doctor may be able to adjust your medications

Depending on your routine and activities, medications that make you sleepy may not always be a problem. However, if your medications make you sleepy during the day, it may be appropriate to share your concerns with your doctor.

Your doctor may be able to reduce the dosage of your medication or may recommend an alternative medication that does not cause sleepiness. Your doctor may also recommend taking your medication at a different time of day to avoid causing drowsiness at unsafe times. Keep in mind that it is often unsafe to stop taking your medications without first talking to your doctor.

If you experience daytime drowsiness, it may be necessary to find alternative forms of transportation until your doctor can address your concerns. Drowsy driving can endanger your life and the lives of all others who share the road.

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