15-Month Coughing Fit Finally Ends After Man Stops Taking Blood Pressure Medication

Michael Gale
Michael Gale suffered from a 15-month bout of chronic coughs, which interrupted his daily life and sleep. FOX 11 News

It’s frustrating enough to suffer from a hacking, chronic cough after a respiratory illness, but a cough that occurs every few minutes and never ends is a different issue entirely. A case of chronic coughing, occurring every few minutes all day and night, plagued Michael Gale for nearly a year and a half — and the mystery remained unsolved until now.

“Every few minutes, day or night, I’d be coughing,” Gale told FOX 11 News. “It really had a restriction on practical day-to-day things. I think it really affected sleep patterns for both [my wife and I]. At some point you get so exhausted, you can’t remember what it’s like not to be exhausted.”

Over the course of the grueling months, Gale went to three doctors, hoping to figure out what was causing the cough. He was treated for a wide array of disorders, including asthma, allergies, and even walking pneumonia — but nothing seemed to help. After pushing to see yet another doctor, Dr. Rachel Torrez at the Salmon Bay Family Medicine in Seattle, Gale finally had the answer. His persistent cough was being caused by a medication he was talking, an ACE inhibitor known as Lisinopril. Lisinopril is used to control blood pressure, but was prescribed to Gale specifically to protect his kidneys from diabetes complications.

About 20 percent of patients develop a cough after taking an ACE inhibitor, but most people experience it within weeks of starting the drug. Gale’s coughing, on the other hand, didn’t appear until months later — and most doctors didn’t check his medications.

Fortunately for Gale, he’s been switched to another ACE inhibitor, and no longer suffers from the endless coughing fit. His words of advice for those navigating the medical system are to push until doctors listen to you — and possibly even do your own research when you feel something needs to be further investigated. Torrez feels the same way: “You have to be your own advocate in the medical system right now,” she told FOX 11 News. “I think that it’s really important that if you feel like you’re not being heard, you seek some place where you feel like that.”

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