A severe spell of coughs can at times last as high as 30 – 40 days. The widely known causes behind such coughing spells are exposure to allergens such as pet gander, pollen, etc., conditions like common cold as well as infections in your lungs. Coughing with traces of mucus accompanied by shortened cycles of breathing may require care and needful medical attention in a full-fledged healthcare setting. In such instances, mucus is collected and laboratory tests are done to understand the nature of infections. In some cases, your treating physician may advise you to go for a chest scan or an x-ray. You may also be advised to take a few cough suppressing drugs such as benzonatate. But, before starting to take this drug, it is important to know the way this drug works.

Most types of coughs may disappear on their own after a few days. But, severe episodes of coughing may require treatment from a qualified medical practitioner. Cough medicines work to open up your air passages – right from your nasal airways till your lungs, reduce the swelling of the lungs, suppress coughing spells, etc. Benzonatate is one of the commonly used cough suppressant drugs. This medicine acts directly on your lungs as well as air pathways, and effectively reduces urges to cough.

In some users of this drug, due to hypersensitivity or prior allergies, a few side effects have been observed. These discomforts include nausea, excessive spells of weariness, constipation or difficulties to pass stools, tiredness, etc. In some instances, this drug may also cause a few skin problems such as an itchy sensation, hives, swelling of skin, etc. In a few remote cases, users have reported an excessive level of dizziness as well as drowsiness; in such cases, it is important to consult your pharmacist or your treating doctor without any further delay.

In general, benzonatate is generally regarded as a safe drug for adults; however, for children and babies, this drug is considered as extremely unsafe. For use among adults, this drug has the clearance of the US-based drug-clearing agency, Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Needful approvals have been obtained prior to 1960 for prescribing it to grown-ups / adults. Now, nearly 4.5 million prescriptions are given for this drug every year, thus earning a place for it in the top 150 most prescribed drugs in the US.

Mechanism of action of benzonatate

This drug is categorized under a label known as antitussive medications. It works by numbing the sensors in your air pathways, which makes way for reduction in coughing. This is one of the rare drugs in this genre as it does not fall under the narcotic sub-genre. It is noteworthy that most drugs in the antitussive category fall under the label of narcotic-based meds.

You need to know that the anesthetic properties of benzonatate are put to effective use in decreasing the activation of your vagus nerve. The vagal-sensors can be found as fibers of the vagus nerve on the membranes of your lungs as well as air passages. In order to make you to cough, excitement of these nerve fibers is a prerequisite. The stimulus is carried to the medullar region of your brain, which creates a reflex to make you cough. Benzonatate controls the signals sent from the vagal nerve-endings. Once needful control is exercised, your urges to cough up tend to reduce sizably.

The structure of this drug resembles a lot with a few anesthetic meds like tetracaine as well as procaine. This is one of the reasons why this drug exhibits numbing effects on your airways. Risks of substance abuse as well as misuse of this med have not emerged; however, instances of toxicity (due to an overdose) have been reported in fairly significant numbers.

You also need to know that the drug is absorbed into the gastrointestinal route; thus allows its active ingredients to enter into your blood stream. Instances of overdose may produce neurological toxicity as well as cardiovascular problems. Such risks are more pronounced when you break the capsule and take the ingredients directly. Due to the numbing effects, you may soon witness symptoms like fits, convulsions and epileptic seizures; these signs may soon be followed by passing out into a coma. In some remote cases, coma is followed by a cardiac arrest or cerebral edema. There have also been a few fatal outcomes which have led to death. Accidental chewing or crushing the tablet inside your mouth may lead to such fatal outcomes, and hence may need faster remedial actions. Your cardiac wellbeing and central nervous system (CNS) need to be under constant watch till the effect of an overdose wears away. You are hence advised to take this drug under the guidance of an experienced doctor.

How to safely consume benzonatate?

It is essential to know that this drug needs to be consumed strictly as per instructions of your treating doctor or physician. A standard dose of 100 mg is administered orally. You may be advised to take the doses thrice every day as part of your medication plan. For younger adults – i.e., those who are 11 years of age or below, the typical dose is 100 mg. This dose is administered three times each day.

You need to remember that this medication is categorized under a genre of drugs called benzoic-acid esters; these are derivatives of the benzoic acid family. Due to its anesthetic properties, this drug is never administered over a long term. Your treating doctor will always administer a medication plan which is of a shorter span of time. You also need to know that continued use of the medication may impair the functioning of your brain. As this drug reduces reflexes associated with making you to cough by working on the medullar part of your brain, long term consumption can make alterations to the way your brain works. Reduction in impulses to cough also has the vagal nerve to pay a role; so, your nervous system may also stand affected when cough signals are suppressed over a longer duration. Your medical team may – at times – administer this drug with medications like guaifenesin or Mucinex, in order to bring about a faster relief.

Double dose or an overdose of benzonatate

Some users may take fairly large doses of benzonatate – i.e., in excess of 600 mg each day. This is an extremely unsafe practice. Such users tend to think that a larger intake each day can expedite their healing process. But, you need to know that an overdose of benzonatate can only worsen your current medical condition. Intake of a dose which is in excess of 200 mg as a single-dose is very dangerous and can cause serious side effects / adverse reactions such as nausea or other abdominal problems, being in a confused state of mind, numbness, pain in your chest, etc.

A few users noticed excessive levels of dizziness as well as drowsiness soon after taking this medication. It is hence not advised to do a few tasks that may require a high level of mental concentration as well as focus. For instance, you need to stay away from doing tasks like operating heavy machinery, driving, etc. This medication can never decrease pains or boost your mental conditions or moods; so, you must not try this drug to treat such conditions.

If you happen to forget taking a dose, it is not recommended to take a double dose of this drug. Intake of a double dose can often lead to shakes or tremors, slurring of speech or impairment of speech function, breathing problems such as gasping, wheezing, shallow breathing cycles and / or shortness of breath. Once you notice one of more of these acute side effects – triggered by a double dose or an overdose, you need to contact 911 (if you are a resident of the US) as quickly as you possibly can. If you are a resident of any of the Canadian provinces, you have to reach out to Health Canada or rush to a poison control center operating in the province of your residence.

The largest possible dose of this drug in a 24-hour time window is never more than 600 mg. Always remember to divide this maximum dose into three (of 200 mg per dose) or four doses (i.e., 150 mg per dose) for needful results. Dividing the doses is possible when you are taking pills or tablets of benzonatate. On the other hand, liquid-filled variant or the capsule form must never be broken or subdivided. Opening or trying to divide the contents of each capsule is generally considered as an unsafe practice. People who consume ingredients of the capsules (by cutting it open) might develop numbness as well as a few breathing problems. In some cases, it can also lead to a complete collapse of your breathing cycles and can lead to fatal outcomes like death.

A few other approaches to treat coughing

Coughing can also be treated through a few other ways. Foremost of all, you are advised to stop smoking. If you work or live in an area surrounded by smokers, it is recommended to keep away from such places. In general, smoke emitted from tobacco products like cigarettes, cigar, etc. contain chemicals like nicotine. If your coughing has become persistent, you need to consult your doctor. The treating physician will most likely advise you to quit smoking. Some people may opt to smoke e-cigars or e-cigarettes; these products may also contain nicotine. Hence, it is advised to keep away from all forms of nicotine-based products.

You are advised to take a lot of rest; it is a known fact that stressing your body or working out can only increase the reflexes to cough. You can also try a few natural remedies such as honey (take about 4 ml of honey twice every day) or take lozenges as well as cough drops. These remedies can reduce irritation in your throat and can thus provide needful relief from coughing. You can also drink lots of water, broth or fruit juices. However, it is not recommended to drink fluids rich in caffeine; this is because – such drinks may increase the odds of dehydration or loss of water.

In sum, benzonatate is a safe drug when it is administered to adults – i.e., people who are aged over 18 years. Food and drug administration has approved the use of this drug from late 1950s. However, a few people – especially who have known allergies or hypersensitivity to benzonatate are not advised to consume this drug. Possible discomforts and adverse side effects can include skin conditions like rashes, itchiness or hives as well as abdominal problems like nausea. Always remember that the safe dose level of benzonatate is 100 mg to 150 mg, when administered orally. This typical dosage plan is taken three times each day. If you require more clarifications about how benzonatate works and its mechanism of action, it is highly recommended to consult your treating physician or pharmacist.

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