Coughing is often an outcome of a few respiratory conditions, including bronchitis, pneumonia, etc. You may also witness coughing spells when you live with minor discomforts such as common colds. Through coughs, your system tries to eliminate foreign bodies or other microbial matters from your respiratory tract. But, coughing can often leave you exhausted – especially when your coughs are dry. A typical cough-reflex has three distinctive phases – namely, inhalation of air, a forcible or a sudden exhalation followed by a gush of air released from your lungs along with a characteristic sound. These reflexes are triggered by your vagus-nerve. Drugs like benzonatate are used for decreasing cough reflexes. It is wise to know about what types of precautions are needed – especially prior to taking this drug.

Sensors of irritants such as foreign bodies or allergens are found at the rear side walls of your wind pipe (i.e., trachea). These sensors are also found at the oropharynx region as well as at the point where your wind pipe branches off further into finer tubes known as bronchi. Activation of these receptors / sensors makes signals to travel through the nerves located at your larynx. These signals reach the medullar region to bring about a cough. Coughing is often a discomfort experienced while you are living with breathing problems or conditions like common cold. Medications such as benzonatate are taken to suppress coughing reflexes.

Intake of benzonatate

Benzonatate works on your lungs and reduces the urge to cough up. This drug is also available in its generic form. You are advised to take this drug under the medical supervision and guidance of your treating doctor. This drug is taken orally. It may be taken either before or after a meal. The typical dose is thrice per day. A standard dose of 100 mg to 150 mg is generally prescribed to restrict coughing reflexes. You need to know that this drug is not given to children who are aged 11 years or less. However, for relatively older children and younger adults (those above 11 years of age), the standard dose is limited to 100 mg.

Dosage levels

The safest dose in a 24-hour timeline stands at 600 mg. Dosages taken above this level can impair your oropharynx region and restrict your breathing cycles. The daily dose is always split into three (3) sub-doses, evenly spaced out within a day. Always remember that this drug is not consumed for a longer time span. Long-term intake of this drug can negatively impact the functioning of your brain as well nerves. As the drug works on the vagus nerve and the medulla region of your brain, persistent intake can alter the way these nerves send signals to brain. Soon, the altered way of signaling becomes the normal, and your brain may start expecting dosages of this drug.

Risks of chewing or sucking this medicine

This medication is also categorized under a class of drugs called esters of benzoic acid. Owing to its anesthetic properties, the drug is not to be sucked or chewed. Such practices can trigger severe allergies like choking as well as loss of sensations in the throat and oral parts. You need to remember that this drug is available as a pill (tablet) and in a liquid-filled capsule form. Splitting of tablets is considered as harmless. However, removing the capsules and consuming the liquid within is regarded as an extremely unsafe practice. Also, powdering the pill or crushing it and eating the powder are equally unsafe practices. These are defined as unsafe because of the risks involved. Users who directly took the liquid contents of capsules or powdered the pills have experienced numbness of their oral parts and respiratory system. In some extreme instances, making your oral organs to come in direct contact with active ingredients has led to collapse of the respiratory system.

Factors influencing dosages of benzonatate

No two people with coughing sensations are administered the same doses of this drug. Your dose is dependent on various factors – such as body weight, age, gender, the underlying clinical condition as well as how well your system reacts to the initial doses. A few users assume that intake of more than 600 mg each day can offer a faster relief from coughing. This is a very wrong assumption. Intake of more than 600 mg each day can only worsen your coughs; in fact, it may lead to a few other adverse side effects and allergic reactions.

Common side effects of benzonatate

This drug is known to trigger a few undesired side effects. Most common among its adverse side effects are migraines, drowsiness, abdominal problems like nausea and difficulties to pass stools. In some cases, blockage of nasal air passages is also observed. Most of these discomforts may disappear once your system gets used to the active ingredients of this drug. However, if one or more of these adverse reactions persist, you need to immediately consult your treating physician or pharmacist.

In some remote cases, users have experienced mental conditions like numbness or tightness in your chest, irritation in eyes, mood shifts, feeling depressed, etc. These are extremely rare occurrences; but, upon noticing any of these signs and symptoms, you need to seek medical attention at the quickest possible time. In a few one-off instances, some people noticed very severe allergies which can include rashes on skin, hives, inflammation of oral organs, respiratory conditions like wheezing, shortness of breath, shallow breathing cycles, passing out or fainting, acute episodes of drowsiness, etc.

You need to remember that your doctor has prescribed benzonatate as its benefits clearly outweigh the risks of aforesaid discomforts, allergies and side effects. If you develop any of these serious side effects, you need to call 911 in the US; you can also reach out to the emergency helpline contacts of the food and drug administration for needful clinical care and support. (This federal drug clearing body manages a 24-hour helpline to aid users manage adverse side effects and allergies triggered by drugs it has cleared / approved).

It is essential to remember that the abovementioned do not constitute a complete list of possible side effects. Hence, it is likely that you may experience a few unlisted side effects as well as a few unknown adverse reactions. In all such instances, reach out to your treating physician or pharmacist; if you are not able to get needful support, call the nearest poison control center.

Drug interactions – Co-administration of benzonatate along with other drugs

This drug is generally regarded as safe when administered onto people aged above 18 years. However, you need to remain cautious of other drugs that you are taking or other treatment plans that you may be presently pursuing. It is also not possible to list all possible interactions between benzonatate and co-administered drugs. In general, you are advised to make a list of all the drugs that you are currently taking. Never miss out on over the counter meds, supplementary drugs, vitamins or herbal drugs while preparing this list. More importantly, once you have shared the list with your medical team, never change or alter the drugs / their dosages. Making such changes may lead to adverse side effects because your doctor may decide on your treatment plan based on drugs and dosages in your list.

Likely spells of dizziness or drowsiness

Intake of benzonatate along with meds that may trigger drowsiness as well as dizziness is considered as an unsafe practice. Co-administration of such drugs can lead to an excessive spell of dizziness; owing to this, you need to stay careful with pain relieving meds like hydrocodone, codeine, etc. Similar levels of caution are required while consuming pain killers that are opioid-based. It is also unsafe to take alcohol along with benzonatate. If you have daily habits of consuming alcohol, your medical team needs to stay aware of such lifestyle. Not stopping with alcohol, if you have habits of taking other forms of drugs like cannabis / marijuana, anxiety reducers or sleep inducers such as zolpidem, lorazepam or alprazolam, inform your treating physician about intake of such drugs.

If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, report your present condition to your medical team. If you are planning to become pregnant, you may be advised to use effective birth control measures while taking this drug. On the other hand, if you are already pregnant, this drug is administered only when it is absolutely essential. Also, women who are breastfeeding or nursing an infant need to take a few added precautions; medical research is still underway to study the extent to which active ingredients of this drug enter mother’s milk. So, tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding your baby prior to starting medication plans.

Overdose of benzonatate+

Missing a dose of this drug must not be compensated with a double dose, or by taking the drug twice. People who took such double doses witnessed effects of an overdose. Typical symptoms associated with an overdose include slipping into a comatose stage – i.e., coma, tremors or involuntary shakes, twitching, epileptic fits, seizures or convulsions. It is also likely to experience respiratory problems like choking, wheezing, shortened breath cycles, etc.

You need to report to your treating physician or pharmacist once you witness any of these side effects. Or else, upon experiencing one or more of these side effects, you need to report to 911 if you are a resident of the US. You may also call the emergency contact coordinates of the food and drug administration to seek needful medical help on an urgent mode. Those who live in any of the Canadian provinces must immediately call Health Canada or contact a poison control center located nearer to where you are living.

In sum, the main function of benzonatate is to decrease reflexes that produce a cough. You need to consume this medicine strictly under the guidance of your treating physician. Standard dose of 100 mg is prescribed to restrict coughing. It is unsafe to administer this drug to children aged less than 11 years. Intake of this drug with cough relievers (such as hydrocodone, codeine, etc.), or opioid-based drugs is not safe. It is equally unsafe to consume alcohol while taking benzonatate. Your treating doctor may tell you not to perform activities needing high level of focus and mental concentration; for example, it is extremely unsafe to pursue activities like working on heavy machinery or driving. For more details, you are advised to consult your physician or pharmacist.

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