A Prescription for Healthy Living

I am frequently asked whether certain over-the-counter medications are safe to take with high blood pressure. I do like to hear this question, as it shows me that people are taking their healthcare seriously. High blood pressure is one of those conditions that happens to come attached with a list of do’s and don’ts as far as over-the-counter, and even prescribed, medications are concerned.

High blood pressure has the potential of causing major complications; therefore, it is vital to keep the condition well under control, not only by taking the prescribed medication, but also by keeping away from certain over-the-counter medications that may interfere with the high blood pressure medication. It is important to keep in mind that just because an over-the-counter medication does not require a prescription and is easily accessible does not mean that it is good for you. In fact, depending on the type of medication you are taking to treat your hypertension, an over-the-counter medication could be downright dangerous.

The following is a list of medications that should not be taken if you are being treated for hypertension. This list is not exhaustive; therefore, it is very important to check with your doctor before you take any medication. It is also prudent to check with your doctor each time he or she prescribes a new medication. Remind him of what you are already taking to be certain that it will not contraindicate with other medications. This goes for over-the-counter and prescription medication, as well as herbal supplements.

– Pain relievers: This particularly refers to over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen. This group of medication is known to reduce the flow of blood to the kidneys. Repeated use of NSAIDs can interfere with the kidneys’ function and may ultimately cause them to work at a slower pace, resulting in a build-up of fluid. An increase in fluid means an elevation in blood pressure. If you absolutely must take a pain-relieving medication, your best bet is to take a product containing acetaminophen, provided your liver is in good health. Other pain-relieving options include ice and heat application, heating pad, and topical gels and creams.

– Decongestants: This type of medication can be particularly problematic when it comes to hypertension. Decongestants are used to alleviate nasal stuffiness. This effect is achieved as the decongestant narrows the blood vessels and reduces the swelling in the nose. The problem is that the nose is not the only place where blood vessels might be narrowing. As a result, blood pressure numbers tend to rise. Hypertensive patients should avoid taking such over-the-counter medications as pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, phenylphrine, naphazoline and oxymetazoline. There are plenty of other alternatives available when it comes to treating sinus problems ad cold symptoms. Always be sure to read labels, and if you are not sure if a certain ingredient will have a negative effect on your blood pressure, ask your pharmacist.


Tylenol is an effective pain reliever that will not negatively interfere with your high blood pressure medication if your cold or sinus problems are accompanied by fever and body aches. Gargling with warm salt water is a good way to kill germs in the throat that may lead to infection. Warm water with lemon juice and honey is a soothing mixture that will temporarily relieve burning throat irritation. Saline spray is an effective way to get rid of nasal congestion and kill infections. Keep a humidifier or vaporizer running while you sleep as moist air will relieve congestion and cough. Your healthcare provider may prescribe an over-the-counter antihistamine, but be careful to check with your pharmacist to see that it is safe for you to take. If your symptoms persist for more than ten days, you should make an appointment to see your doctor as an antibiotic may be in order.


The most important thing to remember is that just because a certain medication is available without prescription does not mean it will not interfere with the prescribed medication you are currently taking. If you are on more than one medication, keep a list in your wallet to show to your doctor or pharmacist whenever you are prescribed something new, or are in need of an over-the-counter medication.

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