Decongestants help relieve blockages in your respiratory system, especially in the upper tract. These decongesting drugs may have several side effects such as a sudden increase in your blood pressure. So, if your blood pressure levels are already high, you need to be very careful while using a decongestant. You need to know what types of drugs may suit you best to remove nasal blocks.

Decongestants are commonly used to get relieved from stuffy or blocked nose. Blockages in the nasal pathway may be due to viral infections, sinusitis or flu. A few allergens – such as mold, pet dander, pollen, etc. – may also cause nasal blockages.

In the likelihood of an infection, your brain sends an additional amount of blood to your nasal blood vessels. This activity often results in expansion of the vessels carrying blood as well as swelling of your nasal tissues. These actions lead to your nose turning stuffy or developing nasal blockages.

In such instances, you may find it difficult to inhale and exhale through your nose.

Do you have high blood pressure (hypertension)?

In general, decongestants can lead to adverse effects in people with eye conditions (such as glaucoma), diabetes, cardiac ailments as well as those with high blood pressure (hypertension). Of all these conditions, people with high blood pressure run an additional risk of increases in their blood pressure levels while they use nasal decongestants. In such cases, it is advised to talk to your treating doctor to prescribe suitable alternatives. Also, decongestants can interact with drugs that treat high blood pressure that you may already be consuming.

You also need to know that decongestants are usually co-administered with pain relieving drugs or antihistamines. So, apart from decongestants, you may also need to know the likely drug interactions of such combinatorial treatments (already taken) to reduce your blood pressure.

How do decongestants work?

The main function of decongestants is to shrink the vessels carrying blood to the nose. Once blood supply is reduced, nasal tissues return to normal state, thus ceasing to remain expanded or swollen. As a final outcome, your breathing becomes normal without nasal blocks. In essence, a nasal decongestant is a vasoconstrictor (blood vessel shrinking agent). It falls under a family of medications called as sympathomimetic amines.

This class of drugs stimulate a specific set of receptors (clinically referred as alpha-adrenergic genre of receptors). The net result of this activation is the narrowing of your blood vessels; this in turn restricts the flow of blood and eventually contracts your nasal tissues.

Various types of decongestants and those suiting well for people with hypertension

Decongestants are made available in oral and topical forms.

Oral forms of decongestants

Among the oral forms, phenylephrine as well as pseudoephedrine are known to clear nasal blocks. These drugs are more effective with congestions linked to cold. But, pseudoephedrine – a very common substance used in several oral decongesting drugs – is also known to raise blood pressure levels. Studies reveal that the substance can increase systolic pressure as well as the rate of heartbeat. But, clinical research does not stand evidence to any increases in diastolic pressure levels. Also, the increase in systolic pressures are observed more in decongesting drugs which had an immediate release of pseudoephedrine. In other instances, stronger dosages of decongestants with quicker release of pseudoephedrine have been found to increase blood pressure levels.

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