Generic Name: Benzonatate

Brand Names: Tessalon Perles, Zonatuss (discontinued) 

Drug Class: Antitussives

What is benzonatate, and what is it used for?

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.

What drugs interact with benzonatate?

There are no known drug interactions with benzonatate.

Is benzonatate safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

  • There is very little information about the effects on the fetus of benzonatate. Physicians may use it during pregnancy if its benefits are deemed to outweigh its potential but unknown risks.
  • It is not known whether benzonatate is secreted into breast milk.

What else should I know about benzonatate?

Do I need a prescription for benzonatate?

Yes.

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).

QUESTION

Which illness is known as a viral upper respiratory tract infection? See Answer

Summary

Benzonatate is an oral medication prescribed to suppress cough. Benzonatate begins to work on suppressing a person's cough within 15 to 20 minutes. The most frequent adverse reactions of benzonatate include sedation, headache, mild dizziness, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. Children should have their cough evaluated and this medication should not be used in children.

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See more info: benzonatate on RxList
Medically Reviewed on 10/28/2022
References
Medically reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP; Board Certified Emergency Medicine

REFERENCE:

FDA Prescribing Information