Does Blood Pressure Go Up When You Get Sick?

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Question

Asked by Jerry

Does blood pressure go up when you get sick? Does it go back down when you are no longer sick?

Answer

Stress on the body can come in several different forms. Stress can be caused by either a physical stressor (i.e. the seasonal cold or flu) or an emotional stressor (i.e. work or social stress) however both may cause an increase in blood pressure. Specifically speaking, when we are sick with an infection or a fever, our body’s immune response and the amount of inflammation present in the body is much greater at that time, this likely will lead to an increase in blood pressure that returns to normal once that sickness or inflammation has been resolved.

Over-the-counter medications and blood pressure

Those of us with high blood pressure need to be aware of certain ingredients found in decongestants that may raise your blood pressure and/or interact with your blood pressure medications. Be aware of these common decongestant medications when purchasing over-the-counter cold and flu treatments:

  • Oxymetazoline
  • Phenylephrine
  • Pseudoephedrine

Also, be aware of medications containing excess sodium, which can have its own effect on your blood pressure. Be on the lookout for ingredients such as “soda” and “sodium” and be sure to check the amount of sodium listed in the medication.

Cold weather and blood pressure

The changes of seasons can also have an effect on blood pressure. As the weather turns colder, our blood vessels begin to narrow which increases the amount of pressure needed to pump our blood through these smaller passageways. Other weather changes can cause an increase to our blood pressure as our body responds in similar ways to sudden changes such as wind, storms, hot/cold fronts, and changes in humidity.

Flu season and blood pressure

As the colder weather approaches and the weather begins to change, catching a cold or the flu is much more likely. Be sure to continue to monitor your blood pressure throughout the change of season and while taking any type of medication (over-the-counter or natural supplements) to combat the sickness. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before beginning any type of medication to prevent any unwanted medication interactions.

Answered by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN