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Generic Name: Benzonatate [ben-ZOE-na-tate]
The Brand Names are: Tessalon Perles, Tessalon, and Zonatuss.
Drug Class: Antitussives

What is benzonatate?

Benzonatate is an anti-narcotic cough medicine that is not narcotic. The benzonatate drug works by numbing the throat and the lungs, making it less intense. Benzonatate is a remedy for the cough.


It is not recommended to use this medicine if you're allergic to benzonatate or topical medications that numb the skin, such as tetracaine and procaine (found in a few sunburn creams and insect bite creams). Never chew or swallow one of the benzonatate capsules. Take the pill in its entirety. Chewing or sucking the capsule can cause your throat and mouth to feel numb or may cause additional dangerous adverse effects.

Some of the most serious adverse consequences of benzonatate can include an unpleasant feeling of choking as well as chest pain or numbness. It may also cause a sensation that you're passing out, be confused, or experience hallucinations. A few of these adverse reactions could be the result of eating or sucking on capsules. Don't give the medicine to children under 10 years of age without medical guidance. A high dose of benzonatate may be fatal for the child.

Before you take this drug

This medicine is for you if you're allergic to benzonatate or other topical medications that numb you, like tetracaine and procaine (found in a few sunburn and insect bite creams). Consult your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Benzonatate is not recommended for use by people less than 10 years of age. A dose that is too high can cause death, particularly for an infant who accidentally swallows the medication.

How to take benzonatate?

You should take benzonatate as directed by your physician. Follow all drug advice and instructions, as well as the directions on your prescription label.

Always consult with a doctor prior to prescribing cough medication to children. The risk of death can be caused by the improper use of cold and cough medicines by very young children. Every dose is taken with a glass full of water.

Do not chew or suck on the benzonatate capsule. Swallow the pill whole. Chewing or sucking the capsule can result in serious negative side effects. Maintain at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Do not miss the missed dose, and take your next dose at the normal time. Avoid taking two doses at the same time.

What happens if I overdose?

For medical emergencies, seek immediate medical attention, contact emergency medical attention, or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. A high dose of benzonatate could be fatal, particularly to children. Accidental deaths have been reported in children as young as 10 years old.

The symptoms of an overdose can include tremors, feeling uneasy and agitated, seizures (convulsions), a slow heart rate, and a weak pulse. It can also cause a feeling of faintness and slow breathing (breathing could cease).

What should be avoided?

Avoid eating or drinking when you feel numbness or tingling sensations in your throat or mouth.

Side effects of Benzonatate

Stop taking benzonatate and seek medical assistance immediately if you notice symptoms that indicate an allergy, such as hives, breathing difficulties, and swelling of your lips, face, and tongue.

Contact your doctor immediately. If you suffer from:

  • Extreme drowsiness and disorientation.
  • Confusion, hallucinations.
  • Constant numbness or tingling sensations in your throat, mouth, or on your face.
  • The chest is numb.
  • A choking feeling.
  • Chills.
  • Burning eyes.

A few of these adverse effects can be caused by the chewing or sucking of one of the benzonatate capsules. The most common benzonatate side effects are:

  • Headache, dizziness.
  • Nausea, upset stomach.
  • Constipation.
  • Itching, rash.
  • Stuffy nose.

This is not a comprehensive list of possible side effects, and others could happen. Contact your doctor to seek medical advice on adverse effects. You can report any side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Details on dosage

Usual Adult Dose for Cough:

Between 100 and 200 mg taken orally three times a day, as required for cough
Comments: This medicine is best taken whole.
Use: Symptomatic relief for cough

Usual Pediatric Dose for Cough:

Children over 10 years old:
Between 100 and 200 mg daily, 3 times per day, as required for cough.
Comments: This medicine is best taken whole.
Treatment: symptomatic relief from cough.

Interaction with other drugs

Utilizing benzonatate in conjunction with other medications that cause you to become drowsy could increase the severity of this effect. Consult your physician before taking opioids, sleeping pills, a muscle relaxer, or medication to treat an anxiety disorder as well as seizures.

Other drugs can interfere with benzonatate. This covers prescription and OTC medications, vitamins, and herbal products. Discuss with your doctor the medicines you are currently taking as well as any medications you are about to start or stop taking.



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