A person with high blood pressure, heart disease, or other heart issues should take care when selecting cold and flu medication. Certain medications, particularly ones with decongestants in them, can raise a person's blood pressure.

Keep reading for more information on cold medications for people with high blood pressure, including safety concerns, and alternative treatment options.

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A person with hypertension or heart disease should talk to their doctor about the most suitable cold medication.

Some cold and flu medications can elevate a person's blood pressure. For most people, this is not a major cause for concern. They are unlikely to experience any harm if they take the medications for a short duration while sick.

However, people with high blood pressure, or hypertension, should be cautious when selecting cold medications. Certain cold medications can cause blood pressure to rise to a dangerously high level. Some can interfere with the effectiveness of drugs people are taking to treat hypertension or heart disease.

Some drugs that can be problematic for people with hypertension or heart disease include:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are drugs that help alleviate inflammation and pain. The NSAIDs ibuprofen (Advil) and aspirin are popular choices for easing the symptoms of a common cold.

According to a 2014 review, ibuprofen increases the risk of hypertension and stroke, whereas aspirin does not increase these risks.

A 2017 study investigated whether taking NSAIDs to treat an acute respiratory infection (ARI) increases the risk of a heart attack. The study included 9,793 people who had previously been in the hospital for a heart attack. The average age of the participants was 72 years.

The study found that people with hypertension who took NSAIDs for an ARI were around three times more likely to have a heart attack. However, the authors noted that merely being sick can raise a person's blood pressure and increase their risk of having a heart attack.

Overall, the findings suggest that a person who has hypertension or heart disease should avoid using NSAIDs to treat cold symptoms. People should talk to their doctor about other pain medications that may be safer.

Decongestants are drugs that help to alleviate the symptoms of a blocked nose. However, these drugs can pose a risk to a person with hypertension, heart disease, or other cardiovascular disorders.

Decongestants work by constricting blood vessels in the sinuses. However, they also constrict blood vessels elsewhere in the body. This results in increased blood pressure and an elevated heart rate. Decongestants may also interact with blood pressure medications, causing them to be less effective.

Decongestants are available over-the-counter at pharmacies. They are available to buy on their own or as an ingredient in multi-symptom cold and flu medications. People who buy medicines to target multiple symptoms should, therefore, read medication labels carefully.

There are several different types of decongestants. The following types are the most likely to cause issues in people with hypertension:

  • ephedrine
  • naphazoline
  • pseudoephedrine
  • oxymetazoline
  • phenylephrine

When it comes to alleviating cold and flu symptoms, there are several alternatives to NSAIDs.

There are some cold and flu medications designed for people with hypertension. A person can ask their doctor or pharmacist for more information about these medications.

The following tips may also help to alleviate cold symptoms and assist recovery from a cold:

  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • drinking warm water or tea with lemon and honey to help soothe the throat
  • using a saltwater gargle
  • using a saline nasal spray
  • using a humidifier to increase indoor humidity
  • getting more rest
  • using aspirin or acetaminophen to alleviate pain

When at the pharmacy, a person should look for medications that do not contain decongestants or NSAIDs other than aspirin. A person should read the product label carefully and look at the active ingredients list. This is where drug manufacturers typically list the drugs and their effects.

A person should also avoid medications that are high in sodium. These ingredients can also increase a person's blood pressure.

Some medications, such as NSAIDs, have warning labels on the packaging. The warning is about how the medication may increase a person's blood pressure. People with hypertension or heart disease should avoid any medications that have this label.

Finally, if a person is not sure, they can ask the pharmacist or their doctor. They should mention any conditions they have, such as hypertension or heart disease, as well as any medications they are taking. The pharmacist or doctor will then outline which medications are safe for the person to take.

A person with hypertension or heart disease should take care when choosing medications to alleviate cold symptoms. They should avoid decongestants and most NSAIDs, as well as medications that contain these ingredients.

People can talk to their doctor or pharmacist for advice on which cold medications are safe for them to take. Home treatments may also help to alleviate cold symptoms and aid recovery.