April 15, 2021

Allergies and Blood Pressure: Everything You Need to Know

Allergy season seems to be year-round these days. This means, for some, battling symptoms like sneezing, congestion, runny nose, itching, and watery eyes. If you are among these allergy sufferers, you may head to a pharmacy near you for relief. 

It may be a bit tricky if you have hypertension (high blood pressure). We have a few tips to help you out when choosing the best and safest medicine for allergy relief. Read on to learn how some allergy medicines may affect your blood pressure and your blood pressure medication.

Allergy Medication and Hypertension

Some allergy medicines can affect your blood pressure or interact with your blood pressure medication. Don't fret! There are safe options out there for treating your allergy symptoms relative to your high blood pressure and we will review them here.

While most antihistamines are generally safe to take with your blood pressure medication, we want you to keep in mind the following drug interactions if you are taking medicines for your blood pressure:

  • Fexofenadine (Allegra) and Carvedilol (Coreg): This may increase the side effects of fexofenadine. You may want to use fexofenadine cautiously if you are taking carvedilol.
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec) and levocetirizine (Xyzal): If either of these drugs is combined with methyldopa (Aldomet), you may experience increased drowsiness.
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl): Make sure to talk with your doctor before taking any diphenhydramine products because any product containing itmay counteract the effects of some blood pressure medications.

Second-generation antihistamines that are not combined with decongestants are generally [2] safe to use if you arenot taking the blood pressure medicines listed in the section above. The same goes for intranasal corticosteroids. Second-generation antihistamines and intranasal corticosteroids include the following:

  • Zyrtec (cetirizine)
  • Clarinex (desloratadine)
  • Claritin (loratadine)
  • Xyzal (levocetirizine)
  • Allegra (fexofenadine)
  • Flonase
  • Nasacort
  • Nasonex
  • Rhinocort

Antihistamine eye drops, such as Pataday (olopatadine) and Zaditor (ketotifen), are also safe options for itchy and watery eyes.

Allergies can also have a recurring effect that can cause highblood pressure. For example, if you have seasonal allergies, you may have aconstant stuffy nose. While it can be annoying, and you may not even see it asa cause for concern, this can lead to sleep apnea which is a much more severe health concern. Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing is interrupted duringsleep. Over time, nasal congestion can contribute to sleep apnea, which can lead to high blood pressure and even other more serious health conditions.

Can Allergy Medications Increase Blood Pressure?

Although allergies don't usually directly increase blood pressure, they can indirectly contribute to high blood pressure. When you choose to use decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Actifed, others)and phenylephrine (Sudafed PE), you can worsen the existing high blood pressure.  

Decongestants constrict blood vessels to open nasal passages and facilitate breathing. This can worsen hypertension because they are not selective to just blood vessels in the nose and thus, can constrict blood vessels in other parts of the body and increase blood pressure.

Although these medicines can ease nasal congestion and improve breathing, they can constrict blood vessels throughout the body, making the heart work harder to pump blood. This is what increases blood pressure. 

When choosing an over-the-counter allergy medication, beware of combination products that contain decongestants. These products typically have the words sinus, cold, congestion, or decongestant on the label. They also might be labeled with the letters D, PD, or PE after the name.

If you choose to take an over-the-counter allergy product, look for one that doesn't contain pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. Some Antihistamines can help with the congestion that accompanies allergies and is safer for the heart, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra) diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and loratadine (Claritin).

Are nasal sprays harmful for people with hypertension? 

Nasal sprays are actually an option that is less impactful to use on the rest of your body. Nasal sprays act directly on the nose's blood vessels and have less impact anywhere else in the body. 

If your allergy symptoms include nasal congestion, here are some options that are generally safe to use as decongestants:

  • steroid nasal sprays (i.e. Flonase (fluticasone), Nasacort(triamcinolone), and Rhinocort (budesonide))
  • antihistamine nasal sprays (i.e. Astelin (azelastine) and Patanase (olopatadine))
  • saline nasal sprays or rinses, such as Ayr, Ocean, SimplySaline, or Neti Pot

Does Dayquil help with allergies?

Dayquil can be used to relieve symptoms temporarily caused by allergies. It will help relieve watery and itchy eyes, throat, runny nose, and sneezing. As usual, we do recommend that you consult a professional before using it as a treatment for your allergies.

Over the counter and even some prescription medicines are solutions that we get used to but are not long-term solutions. We want you to live your life to the fullest, without allergies or sinus issues. So, if you are ready to get rid of your allergy symptoms, schedule your appointment with one of our allergy specialists today!

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