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Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 30, 2024 ·  3 min read

Why You Shouldn’t Mix Decongestants and Blood Pressure Medication

Cold and allergy seasons bring their own set of challenges, especially for people with high blood pressure. It’s essential to understand the potential interactions between decongestants and medications to avoid exacerbating hypertension or compromising the effectiveness of prescribed treatments.

Understanding the Risks

flu woman with bear
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Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, phenylephrine, naphazoline, and oxymetazoline can increase blood pressure and heart rate. These ingredients are commonly found in over-the-counter cold and allergy medications.1 For those with hypertension, these decongestants can interfere with heart medications, rendering them less effective and potentially leading to dangerous increases in hypertension..

Read More: 20 Best Foods To Help Lower Blood Pressure Without Medication

How Decongestants Affect Blood Pressure

Phenylephrine: A decongestant used to relieve nasal congestion.
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Decongestants work by constricting blood vessels in the nasal passages to reduce swelling and congestion. However, this constriction isn’t limited to the nasal passages; it also affects blood vessels throughout the body, raising overall pressure.2 This is particularly concerning for individuals with hypertension or heart disease, as it can worsen their condition.

Alternatives to Decongestants

the girl washes her nose with a spray of sea water
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If you have high blood pressure, consider alternative treatments for managing cold and allergy symptoms:

  • Coricidin HBP: Specifically formulated for people with high blood pressure, free of decongestants.
  • Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids such as water, juice, tea, and soup to stay hydrated and help clear mucus.
  • Pain Relievers: Use Tylenol or Motrin for fever, sore throat, body aches, and headaches.
  • Saline Sprays: Flush your sinuses with saline sprays to relieve nasal congestion without the side effects of decongestants.
  • Lozenges and Humidifiers: Soothe a sore throat with lozenges and use a humidifier to keep air moist and relieve congestion.

Safe Medications for Allergy Sufferers

Chicago, USA - August 4, 2020: Box of Zyrtec Allergy dissolve tabs 24 hour relief.
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For those suffering from allergies with heart disease, non-decongestant medications like Allegra, Zyrtec, or Claritin are generally safe. However, their decongestant counterparts (e.g., Allegra-D, Zyrtec-D, and Claritin-D) should be avoided as they contain ingredients that can raise blood pressure.

Recognizing the Symptoms

high blood pressure
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Be vigilant about decongestant symptoms, such as increased heart rate and heightened blood pressure. If you notice these symptoms, discontinue the medication and consult your doctor immediately.3

Read More: Doctors Warn Not to Use Ginger If You’re On Any Of These Medications

Consulting Healthcare Providers

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Before taking any new blood pressure medication, always check with your pharmacist or healthcare provider to ensure it won’t interfere with your current drug therapy or medical conditions. This step is crucial for avoiding harmful interactions and ensuring your treatment plan remains effective.

Practical Tips for Managing Symptoms

honey
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In addition to medication, here are some practical tips for managing cold and allergy symptoms:

  • Steamy Showers and Hot Towels: Use steam from showers or hot towels to relieve nasal congestion.
  • Natural Remedies: Try natural decongestants like spicy foods or honey, which can help alleviate symptoms without increasing blood pressure.
  • Avoid NSAIDs: Be cautious with multi-symptom medications containing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil Cold and Sinus, as they can also raise blood pressure.

Conclusion

allergy ccongestion
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Managing cold and allergy symptoms while maintaining healthy blood pressure requires careful consideration of medication choices. Avoid decongestants if you have high blood pressure, and opt for safer alternatives. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new medication to ensure it is safe and compatible with your existing treatment plan.

Read More: 8 Medications That May Cause Hypothyroidism

Sources

  1. Why High Blood Pressure and Cold Meds Don’t Mix.” Michigan Medicine. Mary C. Passow, RN, BSN. May 13, 2019.
  2. Don’t let decongestants squeeze your heart.” Harvard. April 11, 2023
  3. High Blood Pressure? What You Need to Know About Cold and Flu Medicines.” AARP. Rachel Nania, AARP. February 14, 2020.