If you have atrial fibrillation, ask your doctor before taking cold medicine or any over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications. The reason is that some OTC medications can interact with the anti-arrhythmic medication you may be taking. Also, cold medicines (OTC and prescription) that contain pseudoephedrine act as stimulants and may worsen atrial fibrillation. When you take a decongestant, the medication narrows your blood vessels. This makes it hard for blood to flow through the narrowed vessels and can result in high blood pressure. Some decongestants can cause your high blood pressure medication to be less effective. Medications to watch out for if you have atrial fibrillation include:
-Sudafed PE (phenylephrine)
-Afrin and other decongestant nasal sprays and pumps (oxymetazoline)
-Combination cold and sinus medications that have both decongestants and antihistamines
To find out if your cold medicine contains a decongestant, read the label. It's a good idea to talk with your doctor about any medication that is not prescribed. Also, your pharmacist can check the label of a medicine and let you know if it's safe for someone with atrial fibrillation and/or high blood pressure.