Lisinopril Cough and Side Effects You Should Know About

By Jennifer Nadel, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
July 5, 2022

Lisinopril is a drug used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart failure.

It is also prescribed after a heart attack, as it aids in preventing future strokes and heart attacks.

However, persistent coughing is a common side effect of lisinopril.

This article will help you understand what lisinopril is and all about lisinopril cough, including why it occurs and how common it is.

I’ll also detail the other side effects of lisinopril, precautions and risks of the drug, and when to see a medical provider about a persistent cough while taking lisinopril.

What Is Lisinopril?

Lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil, and Qbrelis) is a type of blood pressure medication called an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, or ACE inhibitor.

The medication lowers blood pressure by helping your blood vessels to relax.

Lisinopril is also prescribed for managing heart failure, heart attack and stroke prevention, recovery after a recent heart attack, and complications associated with diabetic kidney disease.

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Lisinopril Cough

Some people develop a dry, tickly, and persistent cough when taking lisinopril.

The severity ranges from a scratchy throat to a hacking cough.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor coughs

For some people, a cough may begin almost as soon as they start using an ACE inhibitor.

These medications can also exacerbate underlying reasons for cough or chronic cough issues. 

ACE inhibitor coughs can continue for several months after discontinuing the medication. 

Why do coughs occur?

The exact reason for Lisinopril or ACE inhibitor coughs is unclear, and several factors may be at play.

The drug may cause the body to produce very little or no mucus, resulting in a dry throat and scratchy cough.

Lisinopril may also increase bradykinin levels in the body, causing non-vascular muscles in the bronchus and gut to contract, resulting in tight, dry coughs. 

How Common Is the Cough?

Up to 35% of patients who use an ACE inhibitor such as lisinopril develop a cough.

The cough is more prevalent in older patients but can affect anyone. 

Lisinopril Side Effects

Side effects of lisinopril include:

Mild side effects can last for a few days until your body adjusts to the medication.

If any serious symptoms last longer, consult a healthcare professional immediately. 

Precautions and Risks

Follow your medical provider’s prescription as well as the directions on the leaflet when taking lisinopril.

Visit the emergency department immediately if you have taken an extra dosage.

Keep alcohol and tobacco consumption to a minimum when taking Lisinopril. 

Do not take ACE inhibitors if you are pregnant, trying to conceive, or breastfeeding. 

If you have idiopathic or hereditary angioedema, you may not be able to take an ACE inhibitor.

Talk to your medical provider. 

Certain hypertension drugs like ACE inhibitors can be given to children but should only be done under the guidance of a medical professional. 

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When to See a Medical Provider

If your cough is extremely bothersome, does not improve, causes pain, or comes with other side effects, consult a healthcare professional.

Do not stop taking lisinopril unless your medical provider tells you to.

Go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately if:

  • You have trouble breathing
  • You feel tightness in your chest 
  • Your heartbeat is irregular
  • You feel weak or have vision trouble
  • You have trouble speaking or concentrating
  • You notice a skin rash

How K Health Can Help

Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app? Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and, if needed, text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the cough from Lisinopril go away?
With the right treatment, Lisinopril cough typically goes away within a few weeks. However, if the symptoms are severe or persistent, sometimes a patient will be switched to another medication. Consult a medical professional if the cough worsens or doesn’t subside with treatment.
What does a Lisinopril cough feel like?
Most people experience a dry, itchy, and persistent cough on Lisinopril. The cough may worsen at different times of the day, such as at night.
Why does Lisinopril give you a cough?
Lisinopril is an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor. It tends to limit your body’s ability to produce mucus, which can lead to a persistent, dry, and itchy cough.
How common is a cough with Lisinopril?
Up to 35% of people who use an ACE inhibitor such as lisinopril develop a cough.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Jennifer Nadel, MD

Dr. Jennifer Nadel is a board certified emergency medicine physician and received her medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine. She has worked in varied practice environments, including academic urban level-one trauma centers, community hospital emergency departments, skilled nursing facilities, telemedicine, EMS medical control, and flight medicine.