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Painkillers, medication and blood pressure


WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Some over-the-counter painkillers and medicines can cause an increase in blood pressure.

When a doctor prescribes medicine, they'll know patient's medical history and whether they are at risk of high blood pressure, so will select medication to avoid or reduce this risk where possible.

Prescription medicines that may affect blood pressure include contraceptive pills, steroids and some antidepressants.

As well as affecting blood pressure, some medications and herbal remedies can interfere with other medicines.

If you have blood pressure concerns, check with a pharmacist first that over-the counter medicines are suitable.

Over-the-counter medicines known to affect blood pressure include:

  • Cold and flu medicines containing decongestants
  • NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) painkillers such as ibuprofen

 

Other options for pain relief

Painkillers aren't always the only answer for aches and pains. Many alternatives are effective and safe, including:

  • Ice packs, for acute injuries like a sprained ankle, can keep down swelling and ease pain.
  • Heat with a hot towel or heating pad can be helpful for treating chronic overuse injuries. (However, you shouldn't use heat on recent injuries.)
  • Physical activity can help reduce some kinds of discomfort, such as arthritis pain.
  • Relaxation -- with techniques like yoga or meditation -- may reduce pain. Biofeedback may help as well. These approaches are best for pain that's amplified by stress, like tension headaches.
  • Non-traditional techniques with low risks -- like acupuncture -- benefit some people. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued guidance in the UK supporting this therapy for lower back pain.
  • Osteopathy/physiotherapy -- you may want to seek help from your local physiotherapist for certain types of pain and injuries.

 

Reviewed on June 23, 2014

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