Benzonatate (Oral)

Benzonatate is used in the treatment of coughs that are caused by influenza or the common cold.


Benzonatate is sold in the US under the brand names, Tessalon Perles and Zonatuss.

The medication is used to treat the symptoms of coughs that are caused by influenza or the common cold. Benzonatate is not fully effective for treating a chronic smoker's cough, or the coughing that is caused by conditions such as asthma, or emphysema where there is a very large amount of phlegm or mucus in addition to the cough.

Benzonatate works by acting directly on the patient's lungs to reduce the cough reflex, thus reducing the patient's urge to cough.

Benzonatate comes in capsule or liquid-filled capsule form, and it is only available on prescription from your doctor.

Conditions treated

  • Cough

Type of medicine

  • Capsule
  • Liquid-filled capsule


Benzonatate will help to control and manage the symptoms of your cough. However, some patients do experience a few unwanted side effects when using it. Before you begin using this medication, you should tell your doctor if you have ever suffered any allergic reactions to any form of medication, or if you have allergies to preservatives, dyes, animals or foods.

The following side effects have been reported by some patients who have been prescribed Benzonatate, but it should be noted that the list is not all-inclusive. If you notice anything that is at all unusual about your health or behavior after you start your course of treatment with this medication, you must consult your pharmacist or doctor as soon as possible for advice.

This medication is very safe to use and side effects are relatively rare, however, you should check with your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Wheezing
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Confusion

Do not take more of this medication than you have been told to by your doctor. Taking too much of this drug could lead to an overdose. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have overdosed and should call 911 immediately.

  • Shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
  • Restlessness
  • No blood pressure or pulse
  • Heart failure
  • Convulsions
  • Change or loss of consciousness

Some of the side effects that may be noted by patients taking benzonatate do not require further medical attention, and will probably self-resolve as your body becomes acclimatized to the medication. Ask your doctor for ways in which you can manage or prevent any unwanted effects that you experience, especially if the effects persist or are particularly troublesome. These effects include the following:

The list of side effects given here is not necessarily exhaustive. If you notice any other effects, or if you begin to feel unwell while taking this medication, ask your doctor for advice.


The dose of this medication will vary between patients. Do not use benzonatate in greater quantity or for a longer period of time than directed by your doctor. Do not change the dose unless your doctor tells you to do so. The amount of medication, the duration of your course of treatment, and the frequency of doses that you are prescribed will depend on the condition you are being treated for, the strength of the drug, and on how your body responds to it.

For more information about the drug and for more dosage instructions, read the patient information insert that is supplied with your prescription. Always complete the course of treatment in full, even if your symptoms appear to be improving after a couple of days.

Do not miss any of the doses of your medication that you have been prescribed. In the event that you do miss a dose, do not take double the quantity.

You must swallow benzonatate capsules whole, ideally with water. You must not crush, suck, break, or chew them. Contact of the capsules or their content with your mouth or throat may cause a loss of feeling and numbness, which could lead to choking. If you do experience these effects, do not drink or eat anything until the symptoms have disappeared. If the symptoms are persistent or get worse, consult your doctor immediately.

For the treatment of a cough

  • Adults and children over 10 years of age: Take 100 mg three times daily. Do not exceed more than 200 mg in one dose, or more than 600 mg in total per day.
  • Children under 10 years of age: Treatment with this drug is not recommended.

In the event that you miss a dose of your medication, omit it and revert to your original dosing schedule. Do not take double the dose.

Major drug interactions

Although some medicines should never be used together, it may be applicable and safe to use two or more different medicines, even though an interaction may occur. In such circumstances, your doctor may decide to change the dose or may advise you to take other precautions. Remember to tell your doctor if you are currently taking any other medication or non-prescription medicines, vitamin supplements or herbal preparations.

Some drugs should not be used when you are eating food or certain types of food, as interactions may occur. The use of tobacco or alcohol may also cause interactions to take place when used with certain drugs. Before you begin using this medication, you should discuss the use of the product with tobacco, alcohol or food.

When taking with any of the following medications, benzonatate can cause drowsiness:

  • diphenhydramine
  • alprazolam
  • diazepam
  • zolpidem
  • codeine
  • chlorpromazine
  • risperidone
  • amitriptyline
  • trazodone


In addition to discussing any allergies and other medication that you are taking, you should also mention to your doctor any existing health conditions that you suffer from.

In particular, you must tell your doctor if you suffer from a cough that generates excessive amounts of phlegm or mucus. Benzonatate decreases coughing, making it difficult for patients to remove any mucus that collects in the airways or lungs.

Benzonatate should not be used in children under 10 years of age.

If your cough has not improved after seven days of treatment with this drug, if you develop a fever, if you have a skin rash, or if you have a continual headache, you must consult your doctor. These symptoms could all indicate that you have an underlying medical condition that requires further investigation and appropriate treatment.

Benzonatate can cause some patients to feel drowsy or dizzy. If you are affected in this way, you must not drive, operate machinery, or undertake any other potentially dangerous activity that requires you to feel alert until the effects have subsided or you have completed your course of treatment.

You should limit your consumption of alcohol during your course of treatment with this medication, as this can add to feelings of drowsiness and could be dangerous.

The treatment of pregnant women with benzonatate has been determined as safe in all trimesters. However, you may wish to discuss the pros and cons of using this drug during pregnancy with your treating physician prior to commencing a course of treatment with it.

There is currently no published evidence to suggest that benzonatate can pass into breast milk and affect a nursing infant. However, if you are currently breastfeeding an infant and have concerns, you should discuss this with your doctor or midwife. To be on the safe side, you may prefer to use a suitable infant formula until you have completed your course of treatment.

Do not share this prescription medication with anyone else.


Always keep your supply of benzonatate in a sealed, airtight container and at room temperature.

Do not freeze or refrigerate the medication.

Keep the medication away from direct sunlight and do not expose it to sources of extreme heat, such as radiators. Do not allow the medication to get wet.

Keep the medication safely out of reach of children and pets. If you suspect that a pet has eaten any of your benzonatate capsules, you should seek veterinary advice immediately.

Do not use any medication that has passed its use-by date.

Do not flush any leftover or out-of-date medication down the toilet or empty it into the drains. You should dispose of this drug by mixing it with coffee grounds or kitty litter, and then placing it in a sealed bag or container. Place the bag or contained in your outdoor garbage can where it cannot be accessed by children or animals.


Benzonatate is used to treat and relieve the symptoms of coughs that are caused by influenza or the common cold. Benzonatate is not fully effective for treating a chronic smoker's cough, or the coughing that is caused by conditions such as asthma, or emphysema, where a very large amount of phlegm or mucus is produced in addition to the cough.

The medication is very safe to use with only a limited number of side-effects occurring in a small number of patients. However, before you commence a course of benzonatate, you should discuss your medical history fully with your doctor, as well as mentioning any allergies or bad reactions that you have experienced to any drug, preservative, dye, animal product, or particular foodstuff.

Benzonatate can be used in patients over 10 years of age to treat a cough that has been caused by a common cold or bout of flu. However, you should work closely with your doctor to make sure that the root cause of your cough has been addressed, rather than just treating the symptoms of it. If your condition fails to improve, or if your cough becomes accompanied by mucus or phlegm, consult your doctor straight away.

Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
April 11, 2018
Content Source: