Over-the-Counter Medications

Updated:Apr 10,2014

OTC Medication And HBP Graphic Text

Always read the labels on all over-the-counter (OTC) medications, especially if you have blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg or greater. Look for warnings to those with high blood pressure and to those who take blood pressure medications. Better yet, if you have high blood pressure and certainly if you are on prescription medication, consult your healthcare professional before taking any over-the-counter medications or supplements.

Woman Reading Nutrition Label

Don't fall for "magic pill" claims.

There are no special pills, vitamins or drinks that can substitute for prescriptions and lifestyle modifications. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any OTC drug or supplement that claims to lower your blood pressure. They may not work as advertised, and they may interfere with other medications.


Decongestants may raise your blood pressure.

People with high blood pressure should be aware that the use of decongestants may raise blood pressure or interfere with the effectiveness of some prescribed blood pressure medications. Many over-the-counter cold and flu preparations contain decongestants such as:

  • Ephedrine
  • Levmetamfetamine
  • Naphazoline
  • Oxymetazoline
  • Phenylephrine
  • Phenylpropanolamine
  • Propylhexedrine
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Synephrine
  • Tetrahydrozoline


Check the sodium content.

Some OTCs are high in sodium, which can also raise blood pressure. Look at the active and inactive ingredients lists for words like "sodium" or "soda." Note the amount of sodium in the medication. People with high blood pressure should consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day from all sources; one dose of some OTCs can contain more than a whole day's allowance.



"This content was last reviewed on 04/04/2012."