We all want relief from simple colds and allergies, but there’s something many of us do not know about the over-the-counter drugs that are commonly used to alleviate the sniffles: decongestants can cause heart attacks!
Many popular decongestants are no longer available in stores while others are getting a makeover in ingredients. This is because of illegal methamphetamine labs but also because decongestants shouldn’t be used by people with existing high blood pressure. Unfortunately, few people heed the warnings on labels. People have reported heart attacks, heart rhythm disorders and strokes—all because they were treating a stuffed-up nose.
Decongestants work by narrowing the blood vessels, and this can potentially raise one’s blood pressure to dangerous levels. If you have high blood pressure, avoid over-the-counter decongestants like pseudoephedrene, ephedrine, phenylephrine, naphazolene, oxymetazoline. Instead, choose medications designed for those with high blood pressure, like Coricidin HBP, which doesn’t contain decongestants.
Alternatives to decongestants still contain other powerful drugs like dextromethorphan, so make sure you only take the recommended dosage.