Q. I started taking lisinopril for high blood pressure in December. Soon after, I developed a nagging dry cough that wouldn’t stop. I have thrown up because the coughing was so bad. I have also had blood tests and chest x-rays. They all came back negative.

In desperation, I went to an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist, who told me this kind of cough is common in people my age (50) due to post-nasal drip. He knew I was on lisinopril but gave me an antihistamine and cough suppressant. They didn’t help.

I learned on your Web site that lisinopril can cause a chronic cough. I have not gotten a good night’s sleep in five months and I am furious that none of the doctors I’ve seen suggested changing this drug. Can I control my blood pressure without medicine?

A. Don’t stop the lisinopril on your own, but do discuss this issue with your physician and request a different medication. ACE inhibitor hypertension drugs like lisinopril can cause a very persistent cough in susceptible people. Many non-drug approaches can help lower blood pressure. Adopting one or more may allow you to get by on a lower dose of medication or eventually to phase off it, with your doctor’s help. Weight loss, exercise, slower breathing, and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (especially beets and spinach) can all be helpful. For more details on non-drug options as well as the pros and cons of prescription medicines, we are sending you our Guide to Blood Pressure Control.

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  1. Elle
    Reply

    First time in my entire life I have ever agreed to take a med and I have been taking only 5 mgs of lisinopril for less than 2 months and like everyone else here I cannot stop coughing, uncontrollable, cannot sleep.

    The Dr. just prescribed losartan and honestly I am not comfortable trying that now. As of tomorrow after reading everyone’s posts I would rather take my chances naturally and NEVER take another med EVER again!

  2. wla
    Reply

    Taken this drug (Lisinopril) for a couple of months, not a big effect on my blood pressure, but a cough from hell that I am still trying to get rid of. I have tried most every otc cough medicine, as well as Tessalon Perles, still no relief. My husband has been sleeping on the couch because the cough has been keeping him up at night as well. They now have me on a inhaler, still as miserable.
    I work as a cashier, and this has made my life nothing but hell. Who ever said a light tickle or small dry cough has not sat there hacking so bad that they are gagging and trowing up with it. From what I have read it last for months. Has anyone found anything that works for it?

    • Jane
      Reading, PA
      Reply

      I have had the same problem using this drug. Was put on it March 6 and by March 26 I was back at the doctors with a nagging cough which made be bring up phlegm when I coughed. It was so bad that I took a empty juice box with me in the car so I had a place to spit when I brought up this stuff. Went to the doctor 3 times in 6 months and it was never brought up that the drug was causing the coughing. Dr. thought it was from the sinus cavities. Allergist said drug the problem. No allergies except dust mites. Put on Dulera and was fine within 6 weeks but when I stopped the Dulera cough came back exactly as before. Seeing family doctor on Monday and can’t wait to see what she says.

  3. dt.price
    Reply

    I started taking lisinopril in 40mg. in 2008 and the coughs started with in the same week of taking it. I talked to my doctor about the dry painful cough he act like it was not a big deal and assured me it will go away soon, but the coughing got worse at bedtime with the result of throwing up. Again I talked to my doctor and he prescribed a suppressant lowered my dosage and also prescribed Norvasc and told me that the lisinopril I have to take for the rest of my life and cannot be substituted for any other blood pressure medication.
    Over the next year I noticed my body temp was rising like I was running a fever like the flu so that night I went to work because I’ve never been sick but once in my life as a child and never been sick til I started taking lisinopril and it didn’t help it made things worse. One night at work I went to use the blood pressure machine and checked my own BP even though it was checked earlier at the doctors office and what was told to me there and what I saw with my own 2 eyes and I checked twice my bp was higher than what they told me at the doctor 239 over 138 and when I reported that to the doctor he started accusing me of over eating stop eating pork and I need to exercise well I reminded him of my profession at walmart as a security officer and walk 6 hrs. out of a 7 hr. shift. I don’t eat pork can’t stand the smell and either eat lunch or dinner NO breakfast then he used ethnic stereotype we all eat fatty greasy foods and we are lazy and then started getting angry with me because I started asking more questions til I got sicker and had to apply for disability and asked for my medical records so he in response sent me a letter dropping me as his patient.
    Shortly after I found another doctor and right away he took me off lisinopril but kept me on Norvasc then took me of and prescribed Amlodipine and ordered blood tests to see what damage lisinopril done and showed it has slowly been raising my gloucose levels it had already caused me to start having gran mal seizers, muscle loss with muscle pain, rashes night sweats swelling of my throat face and lips so if anyone who has or have had weird side effects within your states statute of limitations get a lawyer because the state of Illinois is 2 years and that doctor knew just how long to conceal the side affects and the unknown ones and also to protect his free vacation source I didn’t have a chance.

  4. mb
    Reply

    DOE, very sorry to hear about your husband. Sounds like he’s suffering miserably with this thing.
    I switched from lisinopril to Losartan & it has brought my blood pressure down with NO side effects. No cough whatsoever. I take 50 mg a day.
    I hope you’ll contact his dr. & ask for some other medication. Your husband shouldn’t have to go through this.

  5. DOE
    Reply

    I take Lisonipril, my husband also. For years he has been sort of clearing his throat constantly. Two weeks ago he began to cough. It was constant and so severe that he was unable to stop. Prior to this he was put on an inhaler, nasal spray and Nexium. Dr visit last week he was taken off of the Lisinopril. That was 4 days ago and he is coughing nonstop. I’m very serious when I say nonstop. It’s very scary, he can’t even say more than a word or two without setting it off. I gave him some robitussin with codeine and a little bit of his clonozapam after he coughed non-stop for 3 hours, was dripping with sweat and unable to catch his breath.
    Maybe that was wrong, but he’s been this way for four days and it’s only getting worse. I read on another site that Iron Supplements can help with the cough. He can’t eat solid food for fear of inhaling it, so it’s frozen yogurt and water, or gatorade. I don’t cough, but always feel like there is mucus in my throat, or something like a seed is stuck to the back of my throat. Bless you all for this thread !!
    I’m so concerned that he’s going to break a blood vessel or something really bad is going to happen to him if this cough doesn’t go away. He retired two weeks ago and this is one awful welcome to retirement! I feel like this drug should be taken off of the shelves since I have seen so many comments about it and the cough. So much is becoming clear to me with little symptoms we have both had over the years. Now I can only hope that this horrible cough ends and soon. With bronchitis you get a break and somethings will give you relief.
    It would be so great if something would help out now for my husband. If you found something that worked or you were at the point of suffering like my husband, please feel free to comment. He can’t go like this much longer and it’s getting worse. Seriously, I know I said it before, but this is non stop until the codeine and benzo I gave him put him out. That lasted about 45 minutes before it started again.

  6. Ed
    Reply

    Why all the deference to the MD’s who incompetently fail to recognize a common side effect of Lisinopril (dry cough)?

  7. BLJ
    Reply

    Have been taking Lisinopril for 18 years, now 74, and just three weeks ago started with the dry hacking cough around the clock making me lose sleep. Unbelievable after all this time. I knew what my problem was right away, as a few years back I had a friend with the same problem from the same medication. Guess I was hoping it would go away, but after reading all these comments I will call my doctor tomorrow.

  8. Laurie
    Reply

    I have been taking 5mg for 5 weeks started coughing last week, since I have asthma I thought it was that, but this different, gagging to the point of vomiting! Can’t sleep because of it. I am not taking this anymore. My pharmacy did warn me of this problem when I picked it up.

    • Elle
      Reply

      Laurie, are you taking anything now? I am going thru exact same scenario as you in terms of 5 mg less than 2 months and cough is uncontrollable.

  9. Michael W
    Reply

    These pills don’t just make me cough sometimes they cause me to choke for no apparent reason. Sometimes it’s so bad I will get nose bleed the same time I am choking for no reason. Been coughing for years on them thought I just had a chronic cough. I will inform my dr I just had a gagging episode I never knew that Lisinopril was the cause of my cough. Now that I do I will wean myself off of them. That is why I looked this up. this last one I felt in my right lobe of my brain making my blood pressure spike I’m sure.

  10. mb
    Reply

    Thank you, Nelson B., I’ll ask my doctor about that. After thinking about it some more I realized that having a stroke or heart attack would probably be a bit worse than dealing with the side effect of BP meds ;-). I wouldn’t want to put up with a hacking cough for the rest of my life though, so if there are other drugs that don’t cause that it’s definitely worth looking into. Thanks.

  11. Nelson B.
    Reply

    Lisinopril belongs to a class of high B.P. meds called “Ace inhibitors”. There are numerous ways to control high blood pressure. You should ask you doctor for an Angiotensin Receptor Blocker (close in function to ACE inhibitors). These drugs supposedly do not cause the cough.
    Good luck.

  12. mb
    Reply

    Good example of why I try to avoid the medical industry like the plague.
    After having gone years without a checkup, finally broke down & went in for a physical because my BP has been high lately. Was put on Lisinopril. Fine. Till a few days later when the coughing started. And it has gone on….and on….and on…
    Luckily I remembered reading that a dry hacking cough can be a side effect of this drug. I’m not even going back to the dr. I’ll just quit the Lisinopril & try to control my BP through natural means.
    Yeah, I’m sure there are other potions they could put me on. The question is, how horrible are the side effects and/or withdrawal symptoms?? I mention withdrawal because I only just recently managed to get off Effexor, which a dr. prescribed for me 13 years ago for anxiety due to a specific situation I was going though at the time. What she didn’t mention was how nearly impossible it is to get off it thanks to the horrendous withdrawal symptoms. Quitting smoking was easier.
    I wish you all the best of luck. Me, I’ll just eat healthy, exercise & hope for the best.

  13. sharol,
    Reply

    My chest and throat tingled. Asthma pump didn’t work. Cough so bad I almost passed out. Sleepless nights too. Why do they keep giving this stuff?

  14. JLS
    Reply

    I started on Lisinopril in July and took it for approximately a month (10mg once a day). I had somewhat high BP but not excessively high. I am 65 years old. The coughing started about 3 weeks after beginning Lisinopril. I thought at first I had bronchitis. After extreme coughing and chest congestion for a week, I went to urgent care on the weekend to be told it was the drug. I had already suspected this and went off it earlier in the week. On Monday I went to my PCP who said “oh no, this drug does not cause this type of coughing”. She told me to stay off it for 2 weeks, take Sudafed and OTC Claritin and come back in 2 weeks at which time she would put me back on Lisinopril. I know this coughing is an after effect from the Lisinopri!!
    After being off it for a week, I can finally see that my cough is getting somewhat better! I will not be going to this PCP any more and it is very annoying that she did not accept that the Lisinopril was to blame for the cough. Looking for a new doctor but my confidence has definitely been shaken.

  15. RW
    Reply

    I too was on Lisinopril and after taking it for a little over a week I developed the tickling throat on the left side and then the horrible coughing spasms to the point of vomiting and after the spasm it was like someone opened the faucet. My nose would run copious amounts and my eyes also would run. At that point I was taking 2 tabs Lisinopril/HCTZ a day and began searching for a reason of this sudden onset of coughing. When I found out this was related to Lisinopril I made an appointment with my doctor and cut back to 1/day until I saw him. At this point I was exhausted from the coughing and from being up half the night with it. I was taken off the Lisinopril and put on Cozaar after a week of no Lisinopril. I had looked up Cozaar and sure enough cough was one of the side affects but I took it thinking it probably was not that much of a risk. WRONG!!!
    Within a week I was back to coughing but this time it felt like gravel was in the left side of my throat so did the best I could to visualize that side. I saw a white patch and immediately went to the doctor again. The doctor said it was either a cyst, and abscess or yeast infection from diabetes. Prescribed a swish and spit med and took me off the Cozaar and now am just taking HCTZ for HBP. I still have some coughing spells and it feels like there is still something on the side of my throat. Before taking these medications I was fine since taking them it has been the worst 2 months of my life in the expense involved and the discomfort I have had.
    It seems to me that once someone displays a reaction to a med they should not be put back on another med in the same family. High blood pressure is very dangerous and I want mine under control but not at the expense of what you go through with these meds. Yes, all meds have side affects but apparently more people than not experience this particular side effect. I just hope that in time things will get back to normal for me my fear now is this thing on the side of my throat.

  16. pss
    Reply

    Seven weeks ago after having been put on lisinoprel for high blood pressure I got this wretching horrible cough along with gagging, choking, vomiting and loss of bladder due to coughing fits… throat felt like it should have been bleeding it was so horrible… I was not able to leave the house… people suggested allergies, which I have never had… finally I gave up on Dr that I had, went to local on call office to a new Dr who listened to me… he then finished my sentences describing my condition and immediately blamed the lisinoprel… he sent me for chest x-ray to rule out anything else..it was clear as he thought, and told me to stop taking lisinoprel and substituted a generic brand which I began this morning… it may be mind over matter, but I feel better already… I was saved after less than an hour in this office after seven ungodly weeks of hell…

  17. Patsy N.
    Reply

    I started lisinopril the first of November and got sick (I thought) the latter part of the month. Since I am accustomed to a seasonal battle with sinus, I didn’t think much about it. In Feb. I went to a walk in clinic and although my lungs sounded clear they diagnosed me with a respiratory infection, z PAC and all.
    Weeks later and a different doctor prescribed a different antibiotic and different cough meds. After that my doctor told me I had severe allergies and I am the proud owner of $350 of Nasonex. I went to an allergy doctor and had 71 scratches on my back, 19 sticks in my arms, a ct scan of my sinuses and blood work.
    No one could find anything wrong yet I had a horrible cough and kept Halls cough drops with me at all times and a bottle of water at my side. Working with the public was hard, I told them I wasn’t contagious and they asked for that in writing. During a phone conversation with the allergy doctor I told her evidently the meds they tested me with were out of date because I was definitely sick and no one could tell me why.
    She realized that I was taking lisinopril and I immediately stopped. It has been 2 months and I am still coughing but not as violently. Hopefully it will clear my system soon and life will return to normal.

  18. Trilo
    Reply

    I have been on Lisinopril for 1 year. After taking it for a few months I developed a cough. I was treated for allergies because of it. That did not help. The cough has continued to get worse and worse to the point that I now wake up many times a night coughing. Sometimes I feel as if I was about to choke or as if I stopped breathing while asleep and had to cough to start again. I always get the cough when I stand up or lie down. Because of the sleep loss I am tired all of the time. I have an appointment with my doctor this week. After reading EVERY comment on this page I am telling my doctor I want off this medicine now. THANK YOU all for sharing your stories.

  19. Rick
    Reply

    I’ve been off lisinopril for 2 weeks and will never go back, but my nagging cough is still there. It feels like my throat is always dry and my lungs are itchy, but I don’t have sputum or anything.
    Driving me crazy! I hate that medicine! I’ve never had chronic cough before and I don’t smoke or drink. I’m going back to the treadmill at least it doesn’t have side effects.

  20. cb
    Reply

    I had been taking Lisinopril for several years and when I told my Dr. about the persistent dry hacky cough she immediately took me off the Lisinopril -however I’ve been off the Lisinopril for 4 weeks and still cough uncontrollably frequently -along with urine leakage, sore muscles and torso from coughing so hard, loss of appetite because of the constant coughing and feeling like someone is sitting on my chest-(except I’m super grateful to report I don’t cough during the night).
    Even though I don’t have asthma I’ve started using an inhaler -it seems to stop the coughing spasms for a while. I have had sinus and chest xrays that were normal.
    TO THE PHARMACY-does anyone else have any products to use to of help relieve the cough-cough drops-syrup/water don’t help or suggestions to get the medication out of our systems more quickly?

  21. Dlw
    Reply

    After a stent placement 7 weeks ago I was put on lisinopril and haven’t had a good nights sleep since, cough for hours on end…cough till I am sick…I am sure this must be good for a new stent placement? The doctor gave me something new and it has the same side effects…going to just go back to CoQ10

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