Cough and cold are common ailments most of us experience each year. Coughing is often an outcome of congestion in your throat, irritation or other infections in your respiratory tract. Drugs that can help suppress coughing are labelled under a class of medications known as antitussives. You can easily find a lot of these cough suppressing meds in your local drug stores or through online pharmacies. Benzonatate is one such cough suppressant medication; especially, to treat coughing spells triggered due to flu / influenza, common colds, etc. There are dosage instructions related to the safer intake of this drug. Understanding the safe dosing levels of benzonatate is helpful to administer this drug in a safe manner.

Most of the cough suppressant drugs are effective against coughing experienced during common colds. These drugs may have some capabilities to treat chronic spells of coughing. Such spells are often associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), asthma, coughs experienced due to smoking, etc.

You need to remember that drugs like benzonatate may have limited capabilities to treat conditions wherein there is an excessive build-up / accumulation of phlegm, mucus or sputum. Benzonatate is a prescription-based drug; in other words, this is not available as an over the counter medication. This drug works on your air passages as well as lungs to reduce coughs. It is also known to work to reduce coughing triggers, as directed by your brain and thus suppresses coughing instincts. It is sold as a pill as well as in the form of a liquid-filled capsule.

This drug decreases the production of phlegm as well as dilutes the thickness levels. As compared to other cough medications, this drug is known to be more efficient in bringing down the reflexes that produce coughs. You may however need to note that the drug cannot eliminate the underlying causes for coughing. As an extended use, benzonatate is used for treating persistent spells of hiccups. In some cases, the drug finds its use in intubation while you are awake; this is done by numbness induced onto your oropharynx region. The down side of such use is – this can lead to near-fatal or fatal outcomes as it may choke or can even collapse the circulation system. Hence, it is not advised to suck or chew this drug. Above all, this drug needs to be taken under the supervision and guidance of your treating doctor.

How safe is it to use benzonatate?

In general, benzonatate is considered as a safe drug when administered onto adults. It has the approval of the food and drug administration (FDA) in the late 1950s. Each year, more than 5 million prescriptions are written for the intake of this drug. It fares in the list of top 120 prescription drugs which are most widely used in the US. However, some people who have prior allergies or known hypersensitivity to benzonatate need to stay away from this drug. Possible discomforts or adverse side effects of this drug include excessive episodes of tiredness, abdominal discomforts like nausea, difficulties to pass stools or constipation, etc. It is also likely to trigger skin conditions like rashes, itchy sensation as well as hives. If you feel an excessive level of drowsiness or dizziness, you need to immediately inform about such ill-effects to your treating doctor.


Administration of benzonatate onto women who are pregnant or those who are nursing a baby

This drug is labelled as a C-category medicine by the food and drug administration. This means that the effects of this medicine and its active ingredients are largely unknown if taken by women who are already pregnant. Only a limited number of trials have been done so far; these are not adequate enough to arrive at any conclusive evidence. As a safety measure, this drug is administered onto pregnant women only when it is direly needed. On the other hand, women who are planning to become pregnant may need to tell their doctor about their plans. It is most likely that your doctor may advise use of birth control measures while you are taking this drug. Talk to your gynecologist on what type of birth control technique will suit you best; several options such as vaginal rings, pills, non-hormonal techniques, skin patches, etc. are available to avoid unplanned pregnancies, while you are taking C-category meds like benzonatate.

Safety of children

Before starting to administer any drug to your children – especially, those aged below 11 years of age – you need to talk to your child’s doctor (i.e., pediatrician). In case of benzonatate, this drug is not considered as safe if given to children below 11 years of age. Ingestion of this drug by children can bring about near-fatal outcomes like coma. In case of those aged below 10 years, intake of the capsule can even bring about fatal outcomes like death.

If your child has accidentally taken this drug, she / he may develop a few adverse signs like shakes or tremors, being in a restless frame of mind, fits, convulsions, epileptic seizures, passing out or coma. It is also likely to witness cardiac collapse or a heart arrest in younger children. In such instances, death is reported within 60 to 90 minutes from the time of intake.

Numbing effects of this drug when chewed or crushed in your mouth

Those with hypersensitivity to benzonatate may develop stiffness of the laryngeal muscles and in worst cases, may also develop collapse of cardiac muscles. Swallowing this drug is supposed to minimize the risks associated with spasms in the oropharynx area. Chewing or crushing the capsule inside your mouth can trigger numbness of oral organs like tongue, throat and lips.

You need to remember that chemically-similar drugs (especially, those pertaining to the para aminobenzoic acid – PABA genre of anesthetic drugs) were used as numbing agents in case of surgeries and for dental interventions. However, due to allergic reactions and hypersensitivity, PABA genre of meds is now discontinued from being used for anesthetic purposes. Since benzonatate has the same structure, an excessive use of it can lead to mental conditions. If you are feeling dizzy or if you are in a confused state of mind, you need to stop taking this drug as quickly as you possibly can. Its active ingredients can affect the nerves (CNS) and can bring about effects similar to an anesthetic drug.

Safe dosage levels of benzonatate

It is important to take this drug as per the instructions of your treating physician. In general, a dose of 100 mg to 150 mg is administered through oral route. The typical dosage plan involves intake of this drug three times per day. In case of younger adults – i.e., above 10 years of age, a dose of 100 mg is given; thrice in a 24-hour timeline.

The maximum permissible dose per day is 600 mg; this dose is subdivided into three (3) distinctive doses and taken thrice each day, during your medication plan. This practice is recommended only for the tablet / pill form of benzonatate. However, the capsule form (i.e., liquid-filled variant) must not be broken or divided. Crushing or opening the capsule to consume the liquid present within is not a safe practice. Intake of a crushed tablet can numb your oral parts and can also lead to an arrest of your respiratory system.

This drug is also labelled under a category of meds known as benzoic-acid esters; in other words, these are derived forms of benzoic acids. You need to know that this drug is never taken for a longer span of time. A long-term use of this drug can adversely impact your brain function. This drug decreases the reflexive signals of coughing at your medulla (of the brain). This reduced impulse makes your nerves from processing cough signals and thus inhibit coughing spells. The efficacy levels of benzonatate tend to reach higher scales when taken along with drugs or Mucinex or guaifenesin.

Overdose of benzonatate

A few people may take a larger dose of benzonatate – i.e., more than 600 mg per day. A larger dose of this drug may not expedite your healing process. Instead, it may only aggravate your medical condition. Also, intake of more than 200 mg as a single dose is extremely unsafe. It may lead to numbness, pain in your chest, being in a confused state of mind, abdominal problems like nausea, etc.

A few users have reported drowsiness or have felt excessive levels of dizziness soon after taking this drug. It is hence not recommended to perform activities needing high level of mental focus or concentration. You need to avoid activities like driving, operating heavy machinery, etc. A few people mistake this drug as a narcotic-based drug. This is an incorrect belief. This drug is not used to reduce pains or to treat mental health conditions.

If you miss a dose, it is not advised to take a double dose. Taking a double dose may lead to tremors, shaking, slurring of speech, respiratory problems – including, wheezing, gasping or shortness of breath. Upon sensing any of these severe discomforts due to an accidental double dose, you are advised to contact 911 as quickly as you possibly can. Those in Canada need to call Health Canada or call the closest poison control center.

In general, benzonatate is a safe medicine when given to adults – i.e., those aged above 18 years. The food and drug administration (FDA) has approved its use before 1960. Some users – especially those who have prior allergies to benzonatate are advised not to take it. Likely side effects include nausea, skin conditions like rashes, itchiness or hives. Safe dose of this drug is 100 mg to 150 mg, administered orally. This dosage plan is followed three times per day. If you need more clarifications about the safer intake of benzonatate, you are advised to consult your treating doctor or pharmacist.

Leave a Reply