Is Your Cold Medicine Safe For High Blood Pressure?

blackwoman-with-fluWhen you feel that first funny tickle in your throat or cough one too many times, you may be tempted to run out and buy the first over-the-counter (OTC) medicine that promises fast relief. However, if you’re the “1” in 1 in 3 American adults living with high blood pressure, it’s important to exercise extra caution.

Many cold and flu remedies can actually do you more harm than good by raising your blood pressure or conflicting with blood pressure medications.

Stay well this winter by learning the types of cold and flu medicines to steer clear of and some safer alternatives.

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One of the major (and most annoying) symptoms of a cold is sinus congestion and decongestants are usually the go-to remedy of choice. Decongestants thin the blood vessels in the nose, relieving the stuffiness. Other blood vessels throughout the body may be affected as well.

With high blood pressure there is already increased pressure on the blood vessels, and narrowing the vessels more increases the risk of raising blood pressure. Decongestants may also prevent high blood pressure medications from working properly.


Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are pain relievers (like ibuprofen, for example) and are taken to relieve the aches pains that often come along with a cold or the flu. Most cold and flu medications contain NSAIDs, but these may cause your body to retain fluid and increase your blood pressure due to decreased kidney function.

Like decongestants, NSAIDs can conflict with high blood pressure medications and additionally cause issues in people with high blood pressure who are not on medication.

Products containing decongestants or NSAIDs should be clearly marked on the packaging for your convenience.


If you have high blood pressure and need to treat a cold or the flu, it’s best to look for medications that specifically say they are approved for use with high blood pressure, such as Coricidin.

Using a saline (salt water) nasal spray or Neti pot instead of a decongestant is also a good option.

Some of best cold and flu remedies, even with high blood pressure, are “old school” favorites:  stay hydrated with water or tea, keep warm, build up your immune system with fresh fruits and veggies, and get plenty of rest.