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- What is benzonatate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for benzonatate?
- Is benzonatate available as a generic drug?
- What are the uses for benzonatate?
- What are the side effects of benzonatate?
- What is the dosage for benzonatate?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with benzonatate?
- Is benzonatate safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about benzonatate?
What is benzonatate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- Benzonatate is a medication taken orally to suppress coughs. It has an anesthetic (numbing) action similar to that of benzocaine and numbs the stretch sensors in the lungs. It is the stretching of these sensors with breathing that causes the cough. Benzonatate begins to work within 15 to 20 minutes, and its effects last for approximately 3 to 8 hours. Benzonatate is unrelated to narcotics such as codeine which are frequently used to suppress coughs. (Another frequently used cough suppressant, dextromethorphan, which is found in many over-the-counter cough and cold preparations, is a derivative of the narcotics.)
What are the side effects of benzonatate?
The most frequent adverse reactions of benzonatate include:
Other side effects that have been reported include:
Severe hypersensitivity reactions (including airway spasms and cardiovascular collapse) may occur from sucking or chewing the capsule instead of swallowing it.
Benzonatate should not be used in children who are less than 10 years of age because unintentional overdose and death have been reported in this age group.
What is the dosage for benzonatate?
- The usual dose of benzonatate is 100-200 mg three times daily as needed for cough.
- A maximum dose of 600 mg (3-6 capsules depending on the strength of the capsule) per day is recommended by the manufacturer.
- Capsules should be swallowed whole and they should not be sucked, broken, or chewed.
Which drugs or supplements interact with benzonatate?
There are no known drug interactions with benzonatate.
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Is benzonatate safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
What else should I know about benzonatate?
What preparations of benzonatate are available?
Capsules: 100, 150, and 200 mg.
How should I keep benzonatate stored?
Capsules should be stored at room temperature, between 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
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Related Disease Conditions
Upper Respiratory Infection (URTI)
An upper respiratory infection is a contagious infection of the structures of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the sinuses, nasal passages, pharynx, and larynx. Common causes of an upper respiratory infection include bacteria and viruses such as rhinoviruses, group A streptococci, influenza, respiratory syncytial, whooping cough, diphtheria, and Epstein-Barr. Examples of symptoms of upper respiratory infection include sneezing, sore throat, cough, fever, and nasal congestion. Treatment of upper respiratory infections are based upon the cause. Generally, viral infections are treated symptomatically with over-the-counter (OTC) medication and home remedies.
Sore throat (throat pain) usually is described as pain or discomfort in the throat area. A sore throat may be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, toxins, irritants, trauma, or injury to the throat area. Common symptoms of a sore throat include a fever, cough, runny nose, hoarseness, earaches, sneezing, and body aches. Home remedies for a sore throat include warm soothing liquids and throat lozenges. OTC remedies for a sore throat include OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Antibiotics may be necessary for some cases of sore throat.
Chronic cough is a cough that does not go away and is generally a symptom of another disorder such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, sinus infection, cigarette smoking, GERD, postnasal drip, bronchitis, pneumonia, medications, and less frequently tumors or other lung disease. Chronic cough treatment is based on the cause, but may be soothed natural and home remedies.
The common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms include a stuffy nose, headache, cough, sore throat, and maybe a fever. Antibiotics have no effect upon the common cold, and there is no evidence that zinc and vitamin C are effective treatments.
Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways in the lung. Acute bronchitis is short in duration (10-20 days) in comparison with chronic bronchitis, which lasts for months to years. Causes of acute bronchitis include viruses and bacteria, which means it can be contagious. Acute bronchitis caused by environmental factors such as pollution or cigarette smoke is not contagious. Common symptoms for acute bronchitis include nasal congestion, cough, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue. Acute bronchitis in children also my include runny nose, fever, and chest pain. Treatment for acute bronchitis are OTC pain relievers, cough suppressants (although not recommended in children), and rest. Infrequently antibiotics may be prescribed to treat acute bronchitis.
Influenza (flu) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. The flu may be prevented with an annual influenza vaccination.
Chronic bronchitis is a cough that occurs daily with production of sputum that lasts for at least 3 months, 2 years in a row. Causes of chronic bronchitis include cigarette smoking, inhaled irritants, and underlying disease processes (such as asthma, or congestive heart failure). Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Treatments include bronchodilators and steroids. Complications of chronic bronchitis include COPD and emphysema.
Cold, Flu, Allergy Treatments
Before treating a cold, the flu, or allergies with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, it's important to know what's causing the symptoms, which symptoms one wishes to relieve, and the active ingredients in the OTC product. Taking products that only contain the medications needed for relieving your symptoms prevents ingestion of unnecessary medications and reduces the chances of side effects.
Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Colds
If you have a COPD such as emphysema, avoiding chronic bronchitis and colds is important to avoid a more severe respiratory infection such as pneumonia. Avoiding cigarette smoking, practice good hygeine, stay away from crowds, and alerting your healthcare provider if you have a sinus infection or cold or cough that becomes worse. Treatment options depend upon the severity of the emphysema, bronchitis, or cold combination.
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