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Benzonatate

(ben zoe' na tate)

Brand Name(s): Tessalon®, Zonatuss®; also available generically

WHY is this medicine prescribed?

Benzonatate is used to relieve cough. Benzonatate is in a class of medications called antitussives (cough suppressants). It works by reducing the cough reflex in the lungs and air passages.

Are there OTHER USES for this medicine?

This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

HOW should this medicine be used?

Benzonatate comes as a liquid-filled capsule and a capsule to take by mouth. It is usually taken three times a day as needed. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take benzonatate exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Swallow the capsules and liquid-filled capsules whole; do not break, dissolve, cut, crush, suck or chew them. If the medication is released in the mouth, it may make the mouth numb and cause choking. Do not eat or drink if you feel numbness or tingling of your mouth, tongue, throat, or face. If feelings of numbness or tingling continue or get worse, get medical help right away.

What SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS should I follow?

Before taking benzonatate,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to benzonatate, procaine (Novocain), tetracaine (in Synera),any other medications, or any of the ingredients in benzonatate capsules. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a list of ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking benzonatate, call your doctor.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking benzonatate.

What SPECIAL DIETARY instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What should I do IF I FORGET to take a dose?

This medication is usually taken as needed. If you are taking benzonatate regularly and you miss a dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?

Benzonatate may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • nausea
  • constipation
  • drowsiness
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • stuffy nose
  • feeling chilly
  • burning in the eyes

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • rash or hives
  • itching
  • tightening of the throat
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • numbness of the chest
  • confusion
  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that do not exist)

Benzonatate may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What should I know about STORAGE and DISPOSAL of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed. It is very important to store this medication in a closed child-proof container and to keep it out of reach of children. Children may be attracted to the shape and look of the liquid-filled capsules and may die if they swallow the medication. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org

What should I do in case of OVERDOSE?

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

If benzonatate is taken accidentally, call for medical help immediately. Symptoms of overdose can occur rapidly (within 15–20 minutes of taking medication) and death in children has been reported within an hour. These symptoms may include the following:

  • restlessness
  • uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • unconsciousness

What OTHER INFORMATION should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.


This report on medications is for your information only, and is not considered individual patient advice. Because of the changing nature of drug information, please consult your physician or pharmacist about specific clinical use.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® represents that the information provided hereunder was formulated with a reasonable standard of care, and in conformity with professional standards in the field. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose, with respect to such information and specifically disclaims all such warranties. Users are advised that decisions regarding drug therapy are complex medical decisions requiring the independent, informed decision of an appropriate health care professional, and the information is provided for informational purposes only. The entire monograph for a drug should be reviewed for a thorough understanding of the drug's actions, uses and side effects. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® does not endorse or recommend the use of any drug. The information is not a substitute for medical care.

Pronunciation Guide for Drug Names is used with permission. © 2009. The United States Pharmacopeial Convention. All Rights Reserved.

AHFS® Patient Medication Information™. © Copyright, 2020. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists®, 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.

Selected Revisions: August 15, 2017.