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Cold and Flu

Cold and Flu Over The Counter Medications & High Blood Pressure

12/18/2008

Question:

I have RA and high blood pressure and am on a lot of different medications. My family doctor told me to take Coricidin II for my cold. The pharmasist said that I could not take antihistamines or decongestants because of the medications I am taking (Enbrel, Arthrotec, Prednisone, Methotrexate, Coversyl and Tiazac). Are there any other products that are over the counter that I can take for a cold or flu that will not increase my blood pressure?

Answer:

Coricidin is a combination of acetaminophen and an antihistamine (chlorpheniramine).  All decongestants contain at least an antihistamine.

Antihistamines can cause an increase or a decrease in blood pressure, and should be used with caution in people with high blood pressure.  However, the effect is usually mild, and serious problems are rare.

Several of your medications (Enbrel and Arthrotec) can have an effect on blood pressure, and it is difficult to predict exactly how a patient will react to a combination of multiple medications.  In your case, the use of a decongestant is probably safe, but you will have to watch out for changes in blood pressure.

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Response by:

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati