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Over-the-counter cold remedies aren't off-limits if you have high blood pressure or take medication for high blood pressure, but it's important to make careful choices. Talk to your doctor before taking any OTC medications or supplements.
Among over-the-counter cold remedies, decongestants cause the most concern for people who have high blood pressure. Decongestants relieve nasal stuffiness by narrowing blood vessels and reducing swelling in the nose. This narrowing can affect other blood vessels as well, which can increase blood pressure.
To keep your blood pressure in check, avoid over-the-counter decongestants and multisymptom cold remedies that contain decongestants — such as pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, phenylephrine, naphazoline and oxymetazoline. Also, check the label for high sodium content, which can also raise blood pressure.
Call your doctor if your signs and symptoms get worse instead of better or last more than 10 days.
Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.
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