The presence of persistent cough is one of the most common symptoms that bring patients to our lung practice. Keep in mind that I have referred to cough as a symptom, not a disease. Cough is the response to some type of process which may be minor, or may be serious. I have discussed the problem of cough over the years in several of these articles.
Generally speaking, the causes for chronic persistent cough can be found in one of these three categories: upper airway issues, gastrointestinal issues, and lung disease issues, but one important consideration that does not really fit in these three categories is medication.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common disease in the more mature patient population that we see. There is any number of treatment options for hypertensive patients, but one is particularly important to this discussion.
There are a group of anti-hypertensive medications known as ACE inhibitors, and as a group have anywhere from 17-29 percent incidence of cough. Patients taking these medications are often not told about the possibility of cough. Because the connection between blood pressure medication and cough is something most patients do not realize, they often do not mention it to their treating physician.
The symptom of cough associated with ACE inhibitors usually resolves in 1-4 days after stopping the medication, but will recur if the medication is restarted. It is seen more often in women than men. Relief of cough with discontinuation is an easy test.