Skip to main content
Medically Approved

Allergy medication and high blood pressure

twitter share buttonfacebook share buttonlinkedin share buttonemail article button
The linkClaritin and blood pressureZyrtec and blood pressureWhat to take and avoidHypertension treatmentSummary
Some types of allergy medication, including decongestants, work by narrowing your blood vessels. If you have hypertension, this can raise your blood pressure.
Medically reviewed by Jennie Olopaade, PharmD, RPH
Written by D. M. Pollock
Updated on October 20, 2023

Most medications that manage allergy symptoms are safe to take if you have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. But certain types of these drugs may not be suitable if you have hypertension.

These include decongestant medications, which typically have the words “sinus,” “cold,” or “congestion” on the label. These medications can lead to higher blood pressure, which can pose a problem for people with hypertension.

A field filled with yellow flowers with hands reaching up from within the field, representing someone that may take allergy medication and have high blood pressure.
Blue Collectors/Stocksy United

Allergies happen when your body mistakenly attacks a harmless substance. Common allergens include:

  • pollen
  • dust
  • mites
  • pet dander

They often trigger symptoms like sneezing, hives, and itching.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when the force of your bloodstream against the walls of your blood vessels is too high. Long-term exposure to a high force on the walls of your blood vessels puts them under strain and can cause damage.

This can increase your risk of developing other more serious conditions like heart disease.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), some medications that help to treat symptoms of allergies, such as congestion, work by constricting your blood vessels. This process, called vasoconstriction, reduces swelling and drains excess fluid in your nose, which makes it easier for you to breathe.

But these medications don’t just constrict the blood vessels in your nose but throughout your body. If you have hypertension, this can make it even harder for blood to flow through your blood vessels, which can lead to further increases in your blood pressure.

According to the AHA, decongestant allergy medications can also prevent certain hypertension medications from working effectively.

This only affects a small number of people. However, if you have hypertension or are taking anti-hypertensive medications, you should speak with a doctor before taking decongestants.   

Does Claritin raise blood pressure?

Antihistamines are safer than decongestions to take with high blood pressure. This is because they are much less likely to interact with anti-hypertensive medications.

Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of the substance histamine, which is responsible for causing common symptoms of allergies, like sneezing and a runny nose.

Claritin is an over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medication that contains the antihistamine loratadine. This is a second-generation antihistamine, a newer type of antihistamine that is less likely to cause drowsiness. According to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, a doctor is more likely to recommend loratadine if you have hypertension.

However, it is important to remember that some variations of Claritin, such as Claritin-D, contain additional decongestants. Claritin-D, for example, also contains pseudoephedrine sulfate. If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid these variations that contain decongestants.

Does Zyrtec raise blood pressure?

Zyrtec is another non-drowsy allergy medication that contains the antihistamine cetirizine. An increase in blood pressure is not a listed side effect of cetirizine.

However, like Claritin, Zyrtec is available as a combination medication with the decongestant pseudoephedrine This form is called Zyrtec-D and should be avoided if you have high blood pressure.

Medications to take and ones to avoid

If you experience allergies regularly but also have high blood pressure, some medications are safe for you to take as they do not constrict your blood vessels or increase blood pressure.

Some of these OTC medications include:

There are antihistamine medications available as nasal sprays and eye drops if oral tablets do not suit you. Some of these medications include:

  • azelastine (Astepro)
  • cromolyn sodium (NasalCrom)
  • olopatadine eye drops (Pataday)

Medications to avoid include decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and phenylephrine (Vasopressor).

If you need help covering the cost of medications, the free Optum Perks Discount Card could help you save up to 80% on prescription drugs. Follow the links on drug names for savings on that medication, or search for a specific drug here.

Pill bottle with text 'Starts at $4'

Free prescription coupons

Seriously … free. Explore prices that beat the competition 70% of the time.

Get free card

Other hypertension treatments

If you have high blood pressure, it means that a doctor has determined that your blood pressure is above the accepted range.

The way that doctors measure blood pressure uses two numbers. The first is the systolic blood pressure, the pressure in your arteries as your heart contracts. The second is the pressure between beats when your heart is relaxed, which is the diastolic blood pressure.

According to the AHA, the blood pressure ranges are as follows:

  • less than 120/80 mm Hg is typical
  • 120–129 mm Hg systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic is elevated
  • higher than 130 mm Hg systolic and higher than 80 mm Hg diastolic is hypertension

Treatment for high blood pressure often involves a combination of lifestyle changes and medication.

Three common lifestyle changes a doctor is likely to recommend include:

  • Changing your diet: Changing your eating habits to include more heart-healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts, and limiting saturated fats and alcohol can help to lower blood pressure.
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking can increase your risk of hypertension, and quitting can help reduce your blood pressure.
  • Aerobic exercise: Increasing your amount of weekly aerobic exercise, like running or walking, can help to lower both your heart rate and blood pressure.

If a doctor diagnoses you with hypertension, you may receive a prescription for anti-hypertensive medications. These drugs work to lower your blood pressure and keep it within a safe limit.

Some of these include:

  • diuretics like furosemide (Lasix)
  • vasodilators like hydralazine (Apresoline)
  • alpha blockers like prazosin (Minipress) that prevent arteries from tightening
  • beta-blockers that lower blood pressure by reducing your heart rate, and include atenolol (Tenormin)
  • calcium channel blockers that lower blood pressure by reducing how forceful your heartbeats are, such as felodipine (Plendil)

If you need help covering the cost of medications, the free Optum Perks Discount Card could help you save up to 80% on prescription drugs. Follow the links on drug names for savings on that medication, or search for a specific drug here.

Summary

While antihistamine medications are likely to be safe for you to take if you have high blood pressure, decongestant medication may not be.

Decongestant medications like pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine work by constricting your blood vessels to reduce swelling in your nose. As a result, they may increase your blood pressure.

Therefore, if you experience allergies, it is a good idea to avoid decongestant medications if you have hypertension.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

Article resources