va·​so·​con·​stric·​tor | \ ˌvā-zō-kən-ˈstrik-tər How to pronounce vasoconstrictor (audio) \

Definition of vasoconstrictor

: an agent (such as a sympathetic nerve fiber or a drug) that induces or initiates vasoconstriction

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Our blood vessels are constantly narrowing and widening in response to our activity or our environment, constricting in order to retain body heat and widening to get rid of excess heat. So when we're hot our skin flushes, and when we're very cold we become pale. Since the width of the blood vessels affects blood pressure, vasoconstrictors are prescribed to treat low blood pressure. Vasoconstrictors include antihistamines and amphetamines, as well as nicotine and caffeine; we commonly buy them for our runny noses and bloodshot eyes as well. The opposite of vasoconstrictors are vasodilators, which are commonly used to treat high blood pressure.

Examples of vasoconstrictor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Upneeq contains oxymetazoline hydrochloride, a vasoconstrictor that causes the Müller’s muscle—one of two muscles that open the eyelid—to contract, creating a lift that lasts about six hours. Jancee Dunn, Vogue, 12 Mar. 2021 Manet became addicted to ergot, a derivative of a rye fungus, which had been prescribed as a vasoconstrictor. Colin B. Bailey, The New York Review of Books, 17 Nov. 2020 The idea is that applying a vasoconstrictor like caffeine on red, puffy, or otherwise slightly inflamed skin reduces blood flow to the area, thereby reducing the appearance of inflammation. A.a. Newton, SELF, 11 July 2019 The first such drugs, called ergotamines, were powerful vasoconstrictors derived from the ergot fungus, which grows on rye and other grains and led to mass poisonings in the Middle Ages. Emily Underwood, Science | AAAS, 18 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vasoconstrictor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of vasoconstrictor

1877, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for vasoconstrictor

vaso- + constrictor, after French vaso-constricteur

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The first known use of vasoconstrictor was in 1877

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Cite this Entry

“Vasoconstrictor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for vasoconstrictor


va·​so·​con·​stric·​tor | \ ˌvā-zō-kən-ˈstrik-tər How to pronounce vasoconstrictor (audio) \

Medical Definition of vasoconstrictor

: an agent (as a sympathetic nerve fiber or a drug) that induces or initiates vasoconstriction

Other Words from vasoconstrictor

vasoconstrictor adjective

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