Decongestants are not usually recommended to children below 12 years of age, breast feeding woman, and people with heart condition. The following article provides information about why these drugs are not prescribed to people affected by high blood pressure.
Decongestants are one of the widely used medications to tackle the unpleasant symptoms of nasal congestion. These can be availed at any health store in the form of nasal sprays and oral pills. But, it should be noted that these over-the-counter drugs are not meant for everyone, especially for those who are affected by high blood pressure or hypertension
Risks of Decongestants for People With Hypertension
The inside of the nose is lined by many tiny blood vessels. When an infection or allergy occurs, more blood starts flowing to these vessels as an immune response. Due to this increase in the blood flow the vessels swell and block the nose, thereby causing breathing problems. The decongestants reduce the swelling of these blood vessels and makes breathing easier. Also, these medications increase the blood pressure as a result of constriction of the blood vessels.
People affected by high blood pressure are always advised to read the labels on any over-the-counter medications before buying them. Having a blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg or greater, makes this point even more important to remember. Apart from elevating the blood pressure, decongestants are known to interfere with other hypertension medications. There are several medications to treat cold and flu which contain decongestants. Common examples include ephedrine, phenylephrine, and phenylpropanolamine. Also, synephrine, oxymetazoline, levmetamfetamine. tetrahydrozoline, propylhexedrine, and naphazoline are some other medications which contain decongestants and must be avoided by patients having high blood pressure.
According to the American Heart Association, prescribed decongestant drugs which can be taken for relieving nasal congestion, without affecting the blood pressure levels, are Coriciden HBP(R), Chlor-Trimeton, Benadryl, and Tavist-1.
Apart from affecting the blood pressure, these drugs may also cause insomnia and nervousness. Side effects of mild nature include loss of appetite, restlessness, headache, nausea, visual disorders, and disorders of the urinary system. Repercussions which may be severe are, worsening of the condition of heart diseases, after taking these medications. Another common side effect is known as rebound congestion.
Here, the topical form of decongestants tend to become less effective with time, when used for more than 3-5 days. So in order to get the same effect, people administer extra doses, which in turn creates a dependency. This factor further aggravates the congestion. Ultimately, the side effects start showing up in the form of a permanent damage to sinus membranes, nasal dryness, stuffiness, and even regular nosebleed.
Note that, any kind of OTC decongestant poses a threat to the health of a person affected by high blood pressure. Especially, medications which are targeted to treat illness such as cold and flu viruses or sinus, as these are common medications which contain decongestants. Therefore, it is essential to consult a doctors before going for such medications. The doctor will be in a better position to prescribe the right kind of medications which would not only treat the condition, but also prevent any further complication.