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My Health Tip: Over the Counter Cough and Cold Products and Hypertension

It’s cold and flu season and one of the most common symptoms that many people experience is a “stuffy nose,” otherwise known as nasal congestion. There are a few over-the-counter (OTC) nasal decongestants which work great; however, almost all of them carry warnings for people with heart problems and high blood pressure.

These decongestants work by constricting the blood vessels in the nose, decreasing the swelling in the sinuses and helping to get rid of the congestion. Unfortunately, these products also squeeze all other blood vessels in the body which causes increased blood pressure and heart rate. This can become an issue for people with high blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid:

  • Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)
  • Sudafed-PE (phenylephrine)
  • Afrin (oxymetazoline)

However, there are other solutions for patients with high blood pressure that will help with symptom relief:
  • Coricidin products are marketed specifically for people with high blood pressure because the products they contain are safe for those dealing with hypertension.
  • Antihistamines have a drying effect which can help with nasal congestion.
  • Saline nasal sprays/rinses such as Ocean Nasal Spray or the Neti Pot can help rinse sinuses and possibly remove any mucus causing the congestion.
  • Cool mist humidifiers/vaporizers in the home will add moisture to the air and can relieve congestion.
  • Drinking plenty of water will help thin mucus and make it easier for your body to get rid of it.

Always remember to read labels – there are many cold/flu products that contain many ingredients. Look at the back label for any ingredients listed as a “nasal decongestant” and avoid those products. In addition, always ask your doctor or pharmacist before starting any OTC cough and cold medication.

Click here to view the My Health home page.

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