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Decongestants are commonly used cold medicines that can have an impact on heart health.

Cold Medicines & Heart Health

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Cold Medicines & Heart Health

In the wake of many decongestants disappearing from a lot of shelves after a common active ingredient being declared useless*, you may find yourself considering alternative decongestants at this time of year.

*In case you missed it:

Why Is Oral Phenylephrine on the Market After Compelling Evidence of Its Ineffectiveness as a Decongestant?

It doesn’t seem to be dangerous, by the way, just also not effective:

FDA Panel Says Common OTC Decongestant, Phenylephrine, Is Useless

Good for your nose, bad for your heart?

With products based on phenylephrine out of the running, products based on pseudoephedrine, a competing drug, are enjoying a surge in popularity.

Good news: pseudoephedrine works!

Bad news: pseudoephedrine works because it is a vasoconstrictor, and that vasoconstriction reduces nasal swelling. That same vasoconstriction also raises overall blood pressure, potentially dangerously, depending on an assortment of other conditions you might have.

Further reading: Can decongestants spike your blood pressure? What to know about hypertension and cold medicine

Who’s at risk?

The warning label, unread by many, reads:

❝Do not use this product if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, diabetes, or difficulty in urination due to enlargement of the prostate gland, unless directed by a doctor❞

Source: Harvard Health | Don’t let decongestants squeeze your heart

What are the other options?

The same source as above recommends antihistamines as an option to be considered, citing:

❝Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and loratadine (Claritin) can help with a stuffy nose and are safe for the heart.❞

But we’d be remiss not to mention drug-free options too, for example:

  • Saline rinse with a neti pot or similar
  • Use of a humidifier in your house/room
  • Steam inhalation, with or without eucalyptus etc

See also: Inhaled Eucalyptus’s Immunomodulatory and Antimicrobial Effects

Take care!

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