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Tags: Health Topics | Allergies | Cold/Flu | High Blood Pressure | summer | sleep apnea | breathing

Doctors Warn Allergy Treatments Can Increase Blood Pressure

a patient gets their blood pressure checked by a nurse while seated at a table
(Toby Talbot/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 20 June 2019 10:07 PM

Summer colds and allergies often have us gasping for air and then grasping for decongestants. But according to experts, we should be very careful about which products we use because some can aggravate high blood pressure.

"Oral decongestants like pseudoephradrine (Sudafed, Actifed) and phenylephrine (Sudafed PE) can increase blood pressure and should be used carefully, if at all, in people with high blood pressure," Dr. Andy Nish, M.D., of NGPG Allergy and Asthma, tells Newsmax.

Oral decongestants work by constricting small blood vessels in the nose to ease congestion and improve breathing, Nish says, but this effect isn’t limited to the nose. When the blood vessels constrict throughout the body it means that the heart has to work harder to pump blood, which in turn increases blood pressure.

"When decongestants are used as a nasal spray, they do not typically affect blood pressure because they work directly on the nose and have less impact on the rest of the body," he says. "However, these nasal sprays should not be used more than three days in a row because we see what's called 'rebound nasal congestion' and dependence after that point.

"Nasal steroid sprays such as Flonase, Nasacort, and Nasonex are meant to be used on a regular basis and can be used as such because they take at least a few days to become fully effective," says the expert. "There is no danger of becoming dependent on those.

"Antihistamines like Zyrtec, Allegra, and Xyzal are also safe and effective to use for allergies, but may not be as helpful with nasal congestion as the nasal steroids or oral decongestants," Nish adds.

Other products such as Benadryl, Chlor-Trimeton, and Claritin can also help with the congestion that accompanies allergies and are safer for the heart, according to Dr. Thomas Lee, M.D., editor-in-chief of the Harvard Heart Letter.

Lee adds allergies can also affect your blood pressure in another way. If they cause nasal congestion at night, they could interfere with breathing when you sleep.

"This can promote, or worsen, the type of gasping-for-breath snoring known as sleep apnea, which can also raise blood pressure."

Lee recommends talking to your doctor and being screened for sleep apnea if you experience this nighttime choking or gasping, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Nish adds keeping your environment as dust free as possible and closing your windows both at home and in the car during pollen seasons will be helpful in controlling allergies naturally.

"Stay indoors as much as possible when pollen levels are high," he says.

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Summer colds and allergies often have us gasping for air and then grasping for decongestants.
summer, sleep apnea, breathing, shortness of breath, pollen
Thursday, 20 June 2019 10:07 PM
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