Q: I take high blood pressure medication. I have a cold that is settling into my chest. Can I use over-the-counter medications for mucus relief?
A: There are many cold and cough remedies sold over-the-counter (OTC). Often, these products are a combination of several drugs. To be sure that you are choosing one that is safe for you, read the "active ingredients" list on the side of the container.
The most commonly used OTC cough medication is guaifenesin. This expectorant helps loosen mucus, making it easier to cough up. Guaifenesin generally does not interact with blood pressure medication.
Another OTC cough medication is dextromethorphan. It suppresses coughing. It is also generally safe to use with blood pressure medications.
Many combination cough and cold products contain ingredients that can interact with high blood pressure medications. Specifically, some combination products contain the decongestant pseudoephedrine. This can raise blood pressure. Another common ingredient in combination products is ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory medication that can also raise blood pressure. Neither of these ingredients provides specific treatment for cough and chest congestion.
If you limit yourself to OTC mucus relief medications that contain guaifenesin and dextromethorphan, but no other medications, you should not have problems with your high blood pressure medications.