cough syrup withdrawal, stay home from work

Q. My insurance company refused the blood pressure drug my doctor prescribed (Hyzaar) and had me take lisinopril instead. After one month I got a cough from hell!

I’ve had allergies, so my doctor and I thought nothing of the cough. Two months later I couldn’t lie down to sleep without gagging.

Despite three trips to the doctor, prescriptions for antibiotics, bottles of cough syrup and bags of Halls cough drops, nothing helped. Thinking I had TB or cancer, I got a chest x-ray and was ready to see a specialist. Then the nurse suggested my symptoms might be caused by lisinopril. I was changed to Benicar and am slowly getting over the cough.

A. It astonishes us how many people are not warned about cough due to lisinopril or other ACE inhibitors (benazepril, enalapril, quinapril, ramipril). Up to one-third of patients taking such blood pressure medications may experience chronic cough (Chest suppl., Jan. 2006).

Benicar, like Avapro, Cozaar, Diovan and Hyzaar, is a different kind of blood pressure medicine and far less likely to cause a persistent cough. We are sending you our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment with more information about such medications and non-drug approaches to hypertension.

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  1. Tammy

    Black seed oil capsules lower blood pressure. It is over the counter and non-Rx. I haven’t experienced any side effects except lower bp. I hope it helps someone out there suffering with a miserable cough brought on by a drug.

  2. Lynn

    I, too, have been suffering with a horrible cough and wondering if I have COPD or cancer. And voila, I see the connection to Lisinopril which I have been taking for more than 3 years. The coughing is so bad I am losing sleep and having to call in sick to work the next day.

    So I am taking myself off of it, splitting my pills in half for a week or two and then in half again. Will see what stress relief and healthy eating can do. I have a check up in a couple of months and will see how my numbers are then and discuss with my doctor if my bp is up. Thank you, Joe and Terry for the information on Lisinopril. It has been a Godsend for me.

  3. Wendy

    I went through the nightmare known as the ACE cough. It basically disabled me because it happened so often and with such ferocity that I couldn’t go in public because with the continual cough, people looked at me like I was spreading the plague. My cough started as a fairly dry cough, but ended up producing copious amounts of clear mucus.

    I stopped Lisinopril on my own, and the cough was gone within a day or two. I was on it for 18 months. My bp was up at my last cardiologist visit, so I had to confess to stopping my Lisinopril. She put me on Losartan HCTZ. That was 3 months ago. Now I have again developed a cough, and I am so tired of the sore throat and sore chest from coughing, as well as the sleepless nights. Just as with the Lisinopril, I have coughing fits so bad that I feel like I am going to lose consciousness, and have to literally breath hard, stand up, yell out, something to stop me from passing out. Same as others have said, you also lose control of your bladder during these frequent episodes.

    I think the side effects outweigh the benefits of these meds. The Losartan HCTZ is not an ACE inhibitor, but a cough is listed as a side effect. I do not understand why so many doctors ignore the obvious, and continue to deny the side effects of medications. My doctor still believes I overreacted when stopping Lisinopril. She doesn’t believe it causes a cough.

    On top of the new medication, I have been on Metoprolol for two years. That’s another bp med that feels like it can kill one. In me, it causes shortness of breath, swelling legs, and wheezing. My legs are worn out just walking to the car. I have always been active, and these things have never been a problem before. I am about ready to stop all those meds, and just live with high blood pressure. Then I get scared because doctors say that since I had a heart attack and got a stent two years ago, that the meds are necessary.

    I was on no meds at all before March 2016. I feel worse overall than I have EVER felt. Zero energy, plus the other things I listed. Then there’s the weight gain…read up on that too!,Too short of breath and wheezy to walk miles like I have done for 45 years. Scarily enough, I read an article saying that Metoprolol can actually cause CHF.

    And about those statins…I give up. I think medicine may be trying to kill me.

    Thanks for letting me vent. Good luck to all of you.

  4. Jean

    My husband coughs all the time..I’ve been trying to figure out what’s causing..cuz it drives me crazy… so I decided to Google some of his meds.

    Lisinopril was the fist one I looked up. Sure enough that’s the one that’s causing the cough!! I’m just glad I figured out where it came from …

  5. Beth

    OMG. I am sitting here weeping. All this time not knowing what was causing this horrific cough. I would say it was allergies. For years, so many embarassing moments. I just refilled and read the med description to see if anything new was added. I am beyond words. “Dry cough” doesn’t even describe what happens.

    • Delores

      I have just been taken off of Lisinopril 3 days ago.
      Reason being a terrible cough.
      Started with a dry cough in Nov. now it is a cough with clear flem
      I never know when it will start but have not been able to sleep. Coughing all night. I have taken every cough drop that is made for coughing. Nothing has helped.
      Have been on Lisinopril for a few years. Happy to know from reading here that it will take some time for cough to stop.
      I was thinking that it would stop right away.

  6. Ron S.

    My BP elevated to approx. 140-145/90-95 My doctor prescribed Lisinopril 10mg daily…………..about 7 hours after taking the first pill, my BP lowered to about 115/75…………….pretty scary stuff……….no noticeable side effects after first pill………………will be watching for effects described here……………also if my BP goes any lower, I will stop this medication immediately. How long before the coughing starts?

  7. Margaret
    Melbourne Australia

    I’ve been taking Coversyl for 2weeks, and my B.P.has gone from 170/90 to 120/ 80. I have the choking cough,the watery eyes,sniffing … like you other guys

    • Wendy

      For me, the coughing came on gradually, and I attributed it to allergies. But the severity and frequency increased so much, that by July, 4 mos after starting Lisinopril, I was having horrible episodes of coughing. I often felt that I was going to pass out, which was pretty scary when coughing while driving.

  8. Valerie
    Cheltenham UK

    I have had a chronic cough for a few years; sometimes it sounded almost like whooping cough, and the coughing bouts went on for a few minutes. So embarrassing in meetings, as it came on without warning. I was coughing up small quantities of clear sputum, accompanied or immediately followed by sneezing/sniffles and watering eyes. One GP thought I had an allergy, while another thought I had asthma and prescribed inhalers. Chest x-rays were clear.

    A few days ago a doctor changed my BP medication from Perindopril to Losartan, so I hope that does the trick (though it seems I’ll have to wait a bit). I was heartened by one comment that mentioned a productive cough not the usual dry cough, which could have delayed the change in medication.

  9. Kathy

    I started having coughing about a month after starting 5mg lisinopril. It was just as others have described. Incessant coughing spasmodic impossible to stop and very very intense. I was given inhalors on the theory it was an adult onset asthma cough. They did not work. Fortunately I had a very responsive physician who called me at six in the morning and said stop taking lisinopril. Unfortunately it was too late for me to take the trip to Europe I had had to cancel.

  10. Tonya

    I was put on benazepril 3 months ago & the constant cough from hell started . Day & all night long , no matter what medicine I took to combat the cough . Dry cough , tickle in my throat 24/7. I forgot to take my pills for a week & noticed the cough stopped . I started benazepril again & started coughing right after . No more for me . I’m requesting a totally different pill . I’m exhausted from coughing , my back , stomach & throats are killing me from the violent coughing . Thanks for these posts . I would have never guessed this pill was the cause

  11. Stacey

    I’m so mad reading all of these comments. My doctor actually warned me about the cough, but did not share how bad it was going to be. The first comments from Anne summarize my thoughts perfectly. I have a job where I have to public speak a lot and I literally became anxious to speak in public with the thought that my cough were rear its ugly head and totally humiliate me.

    Once I remembered what my doctor told me about the cough and that it was the Lisinopril blood pressure medication I quit it cold turkey. I could literally feel the difference within a day. Still coughing, but not so much and violent. IT MAKES NO SENSE WHY ANY DOCTOR warning or not WOULD PRESCRIBE THIS MEDICATION. I’m with Anne, it is sad to say, but I would literally rather die then take this stuff any more.

  12. Lorain

    I am so glad I found this site. I have the same problem. I have been coughing for about seven months now. I have been given two inhalers, cough medicine, prednisone and an antibiotic. I have had a sinus CT scan and chest X-Ray. I have been to an allergist and I have an appointment with a pulmonary doctor at the suggestion of my primary doctor and allergist. I finally on my last visit address my blood pressure medication which was switched seven month ago and all my doctor said was, oh yeah it does cause coughing but I am trying to protect your kidneys.

    There has to be something else I can take that wouldn’t cause damage to my kidneys. I am losing sleep, feel like I am coughing up a lung, gagging, sweating, have dry mouth and throat and tired of being prescribed medicine that has nothing to do with this cough. I feel like I am keeping the cough drop industry going I eat so many of them. I don’t feel like my doctor thinks it is a serious problem for me and I will be looking for a new one.

  13. Neenon
    Washington state

    I am a type 1 diabetic mother of three. Over a year ago my doctor prescribed Lisynopril to me.

    A few weeks later a started getting this persistent cough. I figured I just caught a cold and took some OTC meds. When that didn’t work I went to see my doc and he prescribed antibiotics, and a nasal spray.

    My cough than became a harsh hacking cough. I went in to the ER and was given every test, x-rays, blood work and they found nothing. I was given tessalon pills and antibiotics. The tessalon pills helped to ease my cough so felt I was getting better. The cough was still there six months later and the tessalon wasn’t working anymore.

    My cough became violent and I couldn’t keep any food down. My chest hurt horribly and my throat was in severe pain. I became incontinent. When I felt like I was dying my husband took me to the ER once again and once again they could not find anything.

    I have listed the meds I took so many times, every single time mentioning I took Lisinopril and yet no one doctor could put it together. They gave me antacid with a pain numbing medicine, tessalon pills and Azithromycin. I went home very depressed, very sick.

    It has been over a year. My depression got so bad and I was suffering so much I felt like living a life like this was unbearable and I wanted to die.

    I finally decided to go see a new doctor and within minutes of me talking and telling her what meds I took she asked me if I was on blood pressure meds and I said yes. I told her it was Lisynopril and she told me that was the cause of all of my pain and suffering. I was flooded with emotions and began to cry. I had contemplated suicide because of the side effects of this medicine.

    It has only been a few days since I’ve stopped the Lisynopril but the coughing is still there as persistent as ever. I hope to spread this message so that no one else has to suffer like I did. How many other people are out there that are going through the same things?

    I felt like I was tortured fora year and I fought a war. I am so tired and I’m only 44. Please when is someone going to do something? This drug needs to be taken off the market now! There are other meds that work just as well. Why isn’t it caught sooner? Sometimes I just sit here and cry thinking about what I and so many other people have had to go through because of this horrific drug.

    • Elizabeth

      They don’t take the drug off the market because it causes cough for only 5% to 35% of the patients. For 65% it doesn’t cause cough and is effective. I have the cough, but this is also the 4th med I have tried for my B/P. I’d rather have the cough (which admittedly is not as horrible as some) than have a stroke and be paralyzed. But when prescribing it the doc needs to warn of the side effects. Mine did.

  14. Prairie

    After reading the comments of others. I’m happy I’m not alone. I have lots of health issues going on and trying to pin point what might be causing this dreadful scary cough is hard to do. My heart consultant has suggested I stop taking the Ramipril for few a days to see what happens with my cough. I’ve been taking this medication about five months now. As much as I think it’s helping me I find this may be the cause of this tickley annoying cough. I was waking up during the night with a dry throat coughing. Nothing concerning then. As the weeks have gone I’m finding it hard now to control this. Will see what happens now I have to stop taking it. ?

  15. john
    vancouver canada

    What happens if your doctor refuses to listen and choose to ignore your comments? Is there any single proof that I could show the doctor and request serious consideration once again?

  16. john
    vancouver Canada

    I hear so many issues on this cough, however, not much solutions.
    What should one do, if it happens. Bring this up to the doctor and insist to have symptoms re-diagnosed?

  17. Judith
    Fairfax, VA

    Background: I’m an insulin-dependent T1.5 diabetic, age 65, and except for the usual aches and pains, otherwise healthy as a horse. My T 1.5 diabetes was “discovered” about 2001, by accident. I have normal blood pressure (generally in the 110/75 range) was Rx’d Lisinopril, which I resisted, but caved in on, and Lipitor, which I similarly resisted, but caved, and which blamed near incapacitated me. I had to stop that three weeks in.

    About the end of May, I either had a bad allergy attack, or maybe some bug, and then started coughing. It got so bad I felt like I was going to cough up a lung. About the only thing that helped was Pseudofed. When I got home, the doctor at first said there was nothing wrong with me (clearly untrue). She did Rx Bactrim, but it didn’t help, and told me to tough it out. Three weeks later, my husband had to DRIVE me back, because I was coughing so badly I would vomit. She prescribed another antibiotic, much stronger, (and it made me sick), which also didn’t work much less help. There’s a pattern here, incidentally, of prescribing things that (A) don’t work (B) require a couple of other things to counteract the side effects and (C) make life miserable.

    I’ve forgotten the name of the second antibiotic, but it usually is given if you’re exposed to anthrax, Teva Pearls, Diabetic tussin. Nothing helps. She warned me off Pseudofed, even though it was the ONLY thing that actually worked. Robitussin helps a little. I essentially choke whenever I lie down, which is really cutting into my sleep.

    She had a head and chest X-ray, but all negative. She concluded I probably had pertussis, despite the fact that I haven’t been exposed to kids and have been vaccinated. What we’re talking about here is a series of really bad, wrong guesses.

    I just read this and as all the other professional, bad, wrong guesses have (1) not worked (2) been incorrect, I’m thinking it must be the Lisinopril. I sent her an email, set up a cough chart so I could rate it from ZERO (no problems) to 4 (cough until I gag, vomit, or it wakes me up at night.)

    I was dismayed to read it could take months for this to go away. If this is correct, and she had taken me off this stuff the first week of June, I’d be done.

  18. larene

    I am so glad to read others had and are having the same coughing problem that I’m having. Thanks so much for sharing, I thought I was going to die!!! I’m hoping that there is a BP pill that I can take. I also take Coumadin for A-fib and worry about getting the wrong pills to go along with that!! I take synthyroid too. Has anyone found a BP pill that will work that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg??

  19. Gina
    New York

    I stopped taking Lisinopril 2 weeks ago and STILL have this violence cough that wakes me up at night and ruins my days. I spoke to the nurse practitioner because my Dr was not in. She INSISTED that it was NOT because of the medicine. She said it was a cause & effect.–meaning Stop the meds, the cough will stop. I insisted that it was! She prescribed a different med. I said “No thank you!” Why are medical personnel refusing to admit this is a problem?!!

  20. Lee

    I have had a constant cough since I have been on Enalapril, I have several coughing fits a day. It seems every time I eat or drink it can trigger mucous and coughing. I had suspected the BP med but thought that only produced a dry cough. Now after reading these posts I realize that my cough is indeed drug produced.
    I am going to stop the meds as of tomorrow and keep an eye on my BP. Should it rise I will go to doctor and see if I can be prescribed one that doesn’t cause this side effect though it seems all these medications produce unwanted side effects.

    • Gina

      How are your symptoms now? I hope you are feeling better!

  21. kimberley

    I was told today after my third trip to the er that I have Ace cough never heard of this before but I can tell you its the worse ever. Just like many I was treated for everything allergies asthma sinusitis etc. Today I go cause this cough is getting worse. So I was placed on a new med. My question is would a detoxification tea help me clear this out?

  22. J.T.

    I have been taking Ramipril for 6 months. Shortly after beginning this (2.5mg)! daily dose I started with the cough, choking, eyes watering… and much worse at night.
    I saw various specialists who diagnosed allergic asthma and various other things and I ended up using nasal sprays, inhalers and even antibiotics!!!
    Fortunately while visiting my sister in the UK I found out about the side effects of this med. I stopped taking them and I’m still waiting for the cough to go.

  23. Daniel M.

    I have been using amlodipine 10mg , Altace 10 mg, Atelonol 50mg and Atorvastatine 10 mg which is Lipitor, for almost 5 years now and suddenly I started to cough mainly at night: I went to a doctor and he made me some blood tests and a X Ray of the Thorax and everything turned out to be fine.
    He told me it was an allergy, but it has been for 2 month now and I never suffered from any allergies. I finally talked to a Doctor who told me it could be an ACE cough and that how I ended up here.
    My question is I am a diabetic Type I insulin dependent that takes Humalog 100Ul several times a day and Lantus at Night 15 Units. My blood pressure before was 125/80, but lately, this past six month, my blood pressure went down to 90/60: What should I do and which medicine can I take to replace the ACE ones. I am also taking Levothiroxyn 50mg for thyroid problem.
    please help

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