Many seemingly safe over-the-counter cough and cold products may be dangerous for people with high blood pressure, because they can raise blood pressure without causing symptoms 13. Therefore, it is very important to be selective when it comes to selecting cough and cold products. Those with high blood pressure should familiarize themselves with the ingredients in over-the-counter medicines before buying any of them 1.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
The American Heart Association says various cough products contain decongestants that can both raise blood pressure and affect the way blood pressure medicines work 12. This is because decongestants tighten blood vessels in the nose and other parts of the body, says the Mayo Clinic 1. The clinic recommends over-the-counter cough products that do not contain a decongestant for those who have high blood pressure 1.
Most Common Products With Dextromethorphan
Examples of common decongestant ingredients in multisymptom cough and cold products that can increase blood pressure include pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylephrine, according to the Mayo Clinic 1. Those with high blood pressure may consider cough and cold products that do not contain any of these ingredients 1. The Heart Association advises that it is still important to discuss taking any over-the-counter medication with a doctor 2.
Cough and cold products that are free of decongestants include the Coricidin HBP line of cough and cold products. Coricidin HBP cough and cold contains an antihistamine and a cough suppressant to alleviate the symptoms of cough, throat irritation and congestion. Coricidin HBP Maximum Strength Flu contains an antihistamine, an analgesic for pain and fever and a cough suppressant to relieve coughing, congestion, and pain. Coricidin HBP Chest Congestion & Cough contains a cough suppressant and a medication to break up mucus to relieve chest congestion. Coricidin HBP Nighttime Multi-Symptom Cold contains an antihistamine, analgesics for pain and fever, a sleep aid and a cough suppressant to relieve coughing, congestion, and pain.
- Cough and cold products that are free of decongestants include the Coricidin HBP line of cough and cold products.
- Coricidin HBP Maximum Strength Flu contains an antihistamine, an analgesic for pain and fever and a cough suppressant to relieve coughing, congestion, and pain.
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- Mayo Clinic: High Blood Pressure
- American Heart Association: Over-the-Counter Medications and HBP
- Schering-Plough HealthCare: Powerful Cold Relief for People with High Blood Pressure
- Vassilev ZP, Kabadi S, Villa R. Safety and efficacy of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for use in children. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2010;9(2):233-42. doi:10.1517/14740330903496410
- InformedHealth.org. Treating acute sinusitis. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). Updated October 18, 2018.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. Pseudoephedrine. Updated February 15, 2018.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Phenylephrine. Updated August 15, 2018.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Oxymetazoline nasal spray. Updated September 15, 2016.
- Mayo Clinic. Fever treatment: Quick guide to treating a fever. Updated March 06, 2018.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Acetaminophen. Updated March 16, 2020.
- Mayo Clinic. Reye's Syndrome.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Dextromethorphan. Updated February 15, 2018.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Guaifenesin. Updated February 15, 2018.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: HealthyChildren.org. Coughs and Colds: Medicines or Home Remedies? Updated November 21, 2018.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Antihistamines for allergies. Updated May 12, 2018.
- De Sutter AI, Saraswat A, van Driel ML. Antihistamines for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(11):CD009345. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009345.pub2
Diana Kaniecki has been writing health-related articles since 1991. Her work has appeared in peer-reviewed health journals including the "American Journal of Cardiology," "Chest" and "Pharmacoeconomics." She also develops health technology products for wellness and chronic illness self-management. Kaniecki received her Doctor of Clinical Pharmacy from St. Johns University.