Benzonatate is an oral medication used for the suppression of coughs. It has an anaesthetic which has a numbing effect not unlike that of benzocaine. Essentially it numbs the stretch sensors found within the lungs. Coughs are caused by the action of stretch sensors in conjunction with regular breathing. The drug will normally have an effect within 15 to 20 minutes of taking it. The effects will last for just about 3 hours. Benzonatate is not to be confused with narcotics like codeine which is also used for cough suppression. Benzonatate has been on the market since 1958 when it was approved by the FDA.


Benzonatate is sold as a liquid-filled capsule (perle) and a normal capsule that is taken orally. It is generally taken three times per day as required. It is important that you follow dosing instructions and ask your pharmacist to clarify any information related to the drug that you do not understand. Take the drug in the manner it is prescribed. Ensure that you do not take more or less than the recommended amount as this will affect the efficacy of the drug.

Take the capsule with water to aid swallowing. Do not chew or suck on the capsule. If this medication is accidentally released in the mouth it will cause numbness of the tongue and possible choking.

Tell your Doctor if

  • You are allergic to benzonatate, procaine (Novocain), tetracaine (Pontocaine), or any other related medications.
  • You are currently on any prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins and /or nutritional supplements. You must let the pharmacist or doctor have this information to avoid any possible complications.
  • You are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or if you are presently breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking this medication stop taking it immediately and contact your doctor for further advice.
  • You will be going into surgery, including dental surgery. It is important that the doctor knows that you are currently on the medication as it may interact with other similar anaesthetics use during surgery.


  • Benzonatate will cause drowsiness. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you are able to determine what effects the medication will have on you.
  • Try to avoid alcohol when taking this medication as this will increase drowsiness and cause a reduction in your regular abilities.

Side Effects

Benzonatate may induce some side effects. Let your doctor know if any of these symptoms are severe and unceasing.

  • Stuffed nose
  • Burning in the eyes
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache

Some side effects are possibly detrimental to your health. If you experience any of these rare yet serious symptoms contact your doctor immediately.

  • Hallucination: seeing and hearing things that aren’t really there.
  • Rash or hives
  • Itching
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Confusion

Storing the Medication

Do not remove the medication from its original container, seal it properly and beyond the reach of children. Keep it at room temperature in a dry place and away from excessive heat, moisture or cold. Discard any medication that has expired as it will lose much of its effectiveness once the date of expiration has passed.

In case of Accidental Overdose

In case of accidental overdose contact your local poison control division at toll-free number 1-800-222-1222. If the person has collapsed or has ceased breathing call 911 immediately to have emergency personnel sent to your location.

Symptoms of overdose normally include

  • Unconsciousness
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking hands that you cannot control
  • Seizures