Allergies can be frustrating enough to deal with on their own, but when paired with other chronic conditions, the management of symptoms becomes quite difficult.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is defined as a condition in which the blood within a person’s arteries exerts too much pressure against the artery walls. If left untreated, high blood pressure can be fatal. In general, a systolic (top number) blood pressure reading of 140 or higher, or a diastolic (bottom number) reading of 90 or higher is considered high.
In the United States alone, almost 116 million adults meet the criteria for high blood pressure each year. Combine that with the 50 million adults in the U.S. who experience some sort of allergic rhinitis (seasonal allergies) each year, and you have a lot of people potentially living with both conditions. It’s no wonder that many of these individuals wonder about the interaction between the two conditions, or if one condition could potentially cause or worsen the other.
People with both conditions may notice that their blood pressure seems to rise when they are experiencing allergy symptoms. There are two reasons for this:
Allergic reactions or attacks can cause anxiety in even the healthiest person, and one of the symptoms of anxiety is an increase in blood pressure. This increase is temporary, however, and once the allergic reaction subsides, the blood pressure should also fall. On the other hand, severe allergic reactions, like anaphylaxis, can actually cause low blood pressure!
Many of the over-the-counter medications used to treat seasonal allergies can also cause an unintended increase in blood pressure. These medications include Sudafed, Sudafed PE, and Actifed, among others. These medications, also known as decongestants, work by constricting the blood vessels in the nose and therefore, reducing nasal congestion. However, the problem is that these medications are not selective, meaning that they can not differentiate between the blood vessels in the nose versus anywhere else in the body, so they cause all of the body’s blood vessels to constrict. This puts even more pressure on the vessel walls as an individual’s blood tries to travel through smaller, narrower arteries, which causes an increase in blood pressure.
Some medications may also interact with a blood pressure medication the person is taking, causing them not to work as intended.
Because of the potential for unwanted side effects or medication interactions, always speak with your doctor or allergist about all of your medical conditions before beginning an allergy medicine, even one that is available over the counter. If you do not have a history of high blood pressure, your doctor may still want to do a thorough examination of your cardiovascular system before recommending an allergy medicine for you.
Have questions about allergies and high blood pressure?
Our team of talented allergists at Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Associates of Tampa Bay have treated patients with a variety of co-occurring chronic conditions, including hypertension. If you have high blood pressure, call us at (813) 971-9743 to set up an appointment before taking any type of allergy medication. We will review your history and current physical condition to make the safest allergy medication recommendation for your situation. Don’t risk a potentially life-threatening reaction – schedule an allergy treatment appointment with us today!