Benzonatate is a medication used to bring about needful relief from coughing spells, especially those caused due to an onset of common cold or different types of influenza (i.e., flu). This drug is generally sold with prescriptions. Also, this med is often compared with other cough-decreasing medicines such as codeine or hydrocodone. But, benzonatate is considered as far more efficient when compared with several other such meds in the same category. However, benzonatate is likely to cause a few adverse reactions as well as side effects. A thorough knowledge of such negative effects can help you take consume this drug with added care and attention.

Benzonatate is regarded as a safe med to take only if it is administered onto adults – especially, those aged between 18 years and 60 years. People aged above 60 years may tend to be more hypersensitive to dosages of this drug. So, it is always recommended to take the opinion of your treating doctor as well as a pharmacist, if you are aged above 60 years. Benzonatate has the needful clearances of the US-based, federal drug clearing agency – the food and drug administration (FDA). It is worth noting that this drug has been approved for use for adults since late 1950s. The safety of this drug is further substantiated by the fact that 5 million and more prescriptions are issued every year for this drug. Hence, this drug is ranked in the top 120 drugs that are widely prescribed in the US.

But, it is very important to take benzonatate strictly under the clinical guidance of an experienced and qualified practitioner. At no circumstances it is safe to take this drug as part of self-medication. This drug can be very unsafe when it is given to children or those aged below 11 years. Children who took this drug witnessed near-fatal outcomes such as coma, cardiac arrest as well as fatal outcomes like death. Keeping this drug away from children is essential as this drug resembles a candy and children may easily get attracted toward it. As an extended precaution, you need to store this drug at a place which is out of reach of your pets and children.


Effects of benzonatate on pregnant women and those who are planning to become pregnant

Women who are pregnant and also, those who are planning to become pregnant need to know that this drug is grouped under category C genre of medicines. This label is issued by the food and drug administration. By this label, it is inferred that the negative effects of benzonatate as well as its active ingredients remain unknown when pregnant women take this drug. To this effect, a very few clinical trials have been carried out thus far. Medical sciences and experts think that trials conducted till date offer very limited help in drawing conclusive evidence about its safety onto pregnant women. As an added safety precaution, this med is seldom given to women who are pregnant; in very remote cases, this is given only when the situation is so serious wherein this drug is found to be indispensable.

Similarly, women who are planning for pregnancy must inform their treating physician about it. Your doctor may advise you to use birth control pills or other measures. This precaution is needed as there is little / no evidence on the negative effects of this drug on women and their fetus. It is important to consult your gynecologist about the type of birth control measures that will work best for your condition. The good news here is – there are many birth control measures available to choose from; namely, non-hormonal birth control techniques, skin patches, pills, vaginal rings, to name a few.

Allergies and hypersensitivity associated with the intake of benzonatate

Also, a few people who may have known allergies or prior episodes of hypersensitivity need to keep away from using this med. Likely adverse reactions as well as discomforts associated with the intake of this drug are weariness, weakness, abdominal problems such as nausea, constipation (or difficulties to pass stools), etc. In some users, especially those who have a sensitive skin, this drug is known to cause a few skin problems such as itchiness, hives as well as rashes.

Negative effects of benzonatate

It is helpful to remember that your treating doctor has prescribed this drug as its benefits clearly outweigh the risks associated with its intake. It is also a fact that many people who took this drug seldom reported any major side effects or adverse reactions. However, if you are witnessing negative effects such as blockage in the nasal passages, upset of stomach or nausea, spells of dizziness or drowsiness, migraines, etc., you are advised to consult your medical team as quickly as possible. It is also likely to harden your stools; in such instances, your doctor may advise intake of stool softeners or laxatives. But, a continuous use or long term intake of laxatives may cause dependencies. In some people, laxatives can hence be habit forming. So, it is always recommended to take such drug only for a very short term.

This drug is unlikely to cause any major allergic reactions. In very remote instances, people who used this drug experienced inflammation of facial parts like lips or oral parts like tongue and throat. In equally rare circumstances, this drug has triggered acute spells of drowsiness as well as dizziness, respiratory problems such as wheezing, gasping or shallow breathing. In some one-off cases, users experienced passing out or fainting; however, these are very remotely experienced side effects.

Some of the serious side effects of this drug include irritation in your eyes, a temporary loss of sensation in the chest region, mental conditions like mood shifts including conditions like depression, being in a restless frame of mind, nervousness, anger, etc. You need to know that the abovementioned list of discomforts do not constitute a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions. Hence, it is likely to experience a few unknown side effects or those which are not listed here. In all such cases, you are advised to consult your treating physician or pharmacist without any delay.

Drowsiness and dizziness caused by intake of benzonatate

As mentioned, a small percentage of users experienced severe episodes of dizziness as well as drowsiness soon after taking this drug. In all such instances, you need to take needful safety precautions. For example, you need to stay away from performing tasks that may need a high level of mental focus and concentration – say, tasks such as operating heavy machinery, driving, etc.

Precautions to be taken to avoid negative side effects

This drug is also categorized under a class of meds known as esters of benzoic acid. The drugs of this class have properties of anesthetic meds, and can thus numb your body; especially, your oral parts if it is sucked or chewed. Hence, the best way to take this drug is to swallow it. Those who chewed and / or sucked this drug experienced acute side effects like numbing of the oral tract as well as other risks such as loss of feelings in the throat or other oral organs, breathing problems, etc. The risks are more pronounced when the contents of a capsule come in direct contact with your oral organs. The pill or the capsule forms of this drug hence needs to be directly swallowed.

In some cases, your doctor may advise a reduced dose of benzonatate. In such cases, it is harmless to split the pill and swallow with a glass of water. However, splitting the capsules is extremely dangerous. You may encounter similar risks if you crush or powder the pill. These practices are defined as unsafe because of the risks involved. Users who directly took the liquid filled inside the capsules and / or pulverized the pills noticed an acute numbness of their oral parts and had problems with breathing. In some fatal instances, people have died due to a complete breakdown of the respiratory function.

How to safely take this drug?

No two patients who are living with coughs are given the same dosage value of this medication. Your dosage value is very unique, and is based on your age, gender, body weight, underlying medical condition as well as how well your system responds to the first few doses of this drug. Some people erroneously think that taking doses in excess of 600 mg per day will bring about a quicker relief from coughs. This is an incorrect belief. Taking this drug in excess of 600 mg every day can aggravate your current clinical condition and may also make way for other adverse side effects.

Last but not least, you need to remember that benzonatate is not to be taken for a longer duration of time. Intake for a longer timespan may adversely impact the functioning of your brain as well as your central nervous system (CNS). Since this medication impacts the functioning of your vagus nerve and also works on the medullar side of the brain – persistent consumption of this drug can adversely change the way your nerves process signals from the brain. Over a long term use, this altered way of signal processing may become the established way. In order to steer clear of possible adverse side effects, a safe dose within a 24-hour timeline always needs to be lower than 600 mg. Doses above this per-day dosage value can severely impair the oral and pharynx regions; it may also restrict your respiratory cycles. Always remember to split your daily dose into 3 dosages, and you will also need to space-out each dose in order to avoid likely risks of a possible overdose.

In sum, likely adverse reactions and negative side effects linked to the intake of benzonatate include tiredness, abdominal problems like nausea, weakness, constipation (or difficulties to pass stools), etc. Some people – especially, those who have a hypersensitive skin or related conditions, this medication may trigger skin problems such as hives, itchiness, rashes and inflammation. Owing to these reasons, it is essential to take benzonatate under the clinical supervision of a qualified medical practitioner or a pharmacist.

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