Trucker MD
Hacking, hurting and stroke recovery

By John McElligott, MD

An allergy is an immune response or reaction to substances like flowers, trees, food or even bee stings that are usually not harmful or dangerous. If you are a truck driver and in and out of the truck all the time, seasonal or other types of allergies can be vexing. In addition, they can pose some problems specific to the medical requirements of your job.

I have spring allergies to pollen. What is the best medication to use to get me through this? Do you have tips that will help me? Is most allergy relief medication on the “knock out meds” list?

We’ve waited all winter for warm weather. When you’re rolling down the highway, all that green out there is nice to see, but those of you who suffer from allergies can be pretty miserable.

In my opinion, the best non-drowsy medication is over-the-counter Zyrtec or Claritin. The tips I would give you are these: You must get started with these meds in the early spring, like the first of March. Wash your hair, eyes, nose every morning and evening in order to get rid of the pollen. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but if you have pets they must be de-pollenized as well. This is especially important if you have one in the truck with you all the time.

If you have other seasonal allergies, you must do the same.

I am a driver who is severely allergic to peanuts. I am really careful and never had a reaction happen in the truck, but I carry an EpiPen. My longtime physician, who is aware of this and has not disqualified me as a driver, prescribes my EpiPen. Could I lose my CDL over this with the new medical registry system?

This is a good question. Before I venture an answer, the question I would ask you is: Do you have any warning symptoms? If so, do you have time to stop and give yourself the EpiPen? If you tell me that the answer is yes and you have plenty of warning time, then I would give you a medical card for one year.  

Unfortunately, if your answer is no, and you have very little time before you are in full reaction, then I would not issue a card.

For those of you who don’t know what an EpiPen is, it’s an epinephrine autoinjector. It delivers a measured dose of epinephrine with a small needle and is used for the treatment of acute allergic reactions to avoid or treat the onset of anaphylactic shock. LL

John McElligott is an MD, Fellow of the American College of Physicians, and medical director of the St. Christopher Trucker Development and Relief Fund. Jeff Heinrich, who serves as the column's medical editor, has a Doctor of Education degree and is Physician Assistant Certified.

This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher. Please remember everyone's health situation is different. If you have questions regarding medical issues, consult your personal physician.