Cold and flu season is well under way, and many caring for elderly individuals are stocking their medicine cabinets with over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. That’s a sensible preparation, but caregivers also need to make sure that those medicines are safe for their senior loved ones. Those caring for individuals who suffer from hypertension (more commonly called high blood pressure) should be especially careful when choosing cold medicines, as some contain ingredients that can raise blood pressure. Check out the tips below to discover what to consider when purchasing cold medications for your senior loved one.
- Avoid decongestants. In most cases, those suffering from high blood pressure should avoid decongestants. Decongestants help to clear up stuffy noses, but they do so by narrowing the blood vessels in the nasal area. However, they also cause blood vessels elsewhere to narrow, and this can result in rising blood pressure. Common decongestants include pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, phenylephrine, naphazoline and oxymetazoline.
- Watch out for salt. Be sure to read the ingredients on cold medicines (and other medications) to see if salt, sodium, or soda is listed; if so, try to find a salt-free alternative.
- Think about alternatives. Look for ways to treat cold symptoms that don’t involve using over-the-counter cold medicines. For example, a nasal spray can help provide relief similar to that offered by a decongestant. Drinking a mixture of warm water, honey, and lemon juice can also provide sore throat relief. Keeping the air in the house appropriately moist by using humidifier can also help with congestion.
- Monitor. Finally and most importantly, individuals with hypertension need to have their blood pressure monitored regularly – whether they have a cold or not! Keeping on top of blood pressure changes is important.