Benzonatate oral capsule side effects: A detailed guide
This article describes possible side effects of benzonatate oral capsule. You’ll also find information on cost savings and coupon options for benzonatate.
Benzonatate oral capsule is a generic version of the brand-name drug Tessalon.
You can explore this overview article to learn more about benzonatate oral capsule, including the drug’s uses, dosage, and more.
More common side effects of benzonatate
Benzonatate oral capsule may cause mild or serious side effects. Below are some of the more common side effects of this medication.
Commonly reported side effects of benzonatate oral capsule include:
Mild side effects of benzonatate
Benzonatate may cause certain mild side effects. Usually, mild side effects are temporary and can be managed easily. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have side effects that don’t go away or become bothersome.
Mild side effects of benzonatate oral capsule that occurred in studies include:
- stuffy nose
- burning sensation in the eyes
- cold or “chilly” sensation
- numbness in the chest
- mild allergic reaction*
* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of benzonatate in detail” section below.
Benzonatate oral capsule may cause additional mild side effects besides those listed above. For details, see the drug’s prescribing information.
Serious side effects of benzonatate
Benzonatate may cause certain serious side effects. If you have any serious side effects from benzonatate oral capsule, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency or your side effects feel life threatening, take immediate action. Call 911 or a local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room.
After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. Visit MedWatch’s website if you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with benzonatate oral capsule.
Serious side effects of benzonatate oral capsule that occurred in studies include:
- “bizarre” or unusual behavior, including severe confusion
- numbness or tingling in the mouth, throat, or face*
- sudden impaired or abnormal heart function†
- very low blood pressure†
- severe allergic reaction*
* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of benzonatate in detail” section below.
† To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of benzonatate in children” and “Common questions about side effects of benzonatate” sections below.
Side effects of benzonatate in children
Benzonatate may be prescribed to treat cough in children only ages 10 years and older. Side effects in children are expected to be the same as in adults. (See the “Mild side effects of benzonatate” and “Serious side effects of benzonatate” sections above for details.)
Taking the capsules properly
It’s important that children who are prescribed benzonatate take the capsules properly. Children must swallow the capsules whole without sucking, chewing, breaking, or crushing them. If they do not, serious side effects can occur. These may include numbness or tingling in the mouth, throat, or face. They may also include sudden impaired or abnormal heart function and very low blood pressure.
Be certain to instruct your child to swallow benzonatate capsules whole without sucking, chewing, breaking, or crushing them.
Keeping the capsules out of children’s reach
Keep benzonatate capsules out of reach of children, whether they’re prescribed for you or a child.
Benzonatate is approved for use in children only ages 10 years and older. In extreme cases, benzonatate has led to death when taken accidentally by children under age 10 years. (Benzonatate is not approved for use in this age group.) Some of these deaths occurred rapidly, within 1 hour of taking the capsule.
If a child has not been prescribed benzonatate but accidentally takes it, seek medical care immediately.
Warnings for benzonatate
Below are some factors you may want to discuss with your doctor before taking benzonatate oral capsule.
It may not be safe for you to take benzonatate oral capsule if you have specific health conditions. These are sometimes called drug-condition interactions. Other things may also affect whether benzonatate oral capsule is a safe treatment option for you.
Before taking benzonatate oral capsule, tell your doctor about your health and medications you take. Things to consider include those listed below.
Mental health condition, such as depression. In extreme cases, benzonatate has been reported to cause mental health side effects. These include hallucinations and “bizarre” behaviors. Your risk may be higher if you have an existing mental health condition, such as depression or bipolar disorder. Your doctor can help determine whether benzonatate is safe to take with your mental health condition.
Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to benzonatate oral capsule or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe this medication. Ask them about other treatment options that may be better for you.
Benzonatate and pregnancy
Doctors don’t know whether benzonatate is safe to take during pregnancy. Information on whether it’s safe to take the drug during pregnancy is limited.
Talk with your doctor to learn more about safe ways to treat your cough if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Benzonatate and breastfeeding
Doctors don’t know whether benzonatate passes into breast milk or causes side effects in a child who is breastfed.
If you’re taking benzonatate, you can learn more about safe feeding options for your child by asking your doctor. Keep in mind that benzonatate typically isn’t prescribed long term. It’s usually taken only for a short time. So your doctor might suggest you temporarily avoid breastfeeding until you finish benzonatate treatment.
Benzonatate and alcohol
Benzonatate oral capsule is not known to interact with alcohol.
But consuming alcohol during benzonatate treatment may raise your risk of certain side effects. Examples include nausea, headache, and confusion.
If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about whether it’s safe to consume it during your treatment with benzonatate oral capsule.
Save up to 80% on your medications
Get prescriptions for as low as $4 with our free discount card, redeemable at over 64,000 pharmacies nationwide.Get free card
Common questions about side effects of benzonatate
Here are answers to some common questions about side effects of benzonatate oral capsule. If you have other questions, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Can benzonatate cause changes in blood pressure?
No, swallowing benzonatate capsules whole usually isn’t expected to cause changes in blood pressure. This side effect wasn’t reported in studies of the drug.
But sucking, chewing, breaking, or crushing benzonatate oral capsules can cause serious side effects. These include very low blood pressure and sudden impaired or abnormal heart function. For this reason, it’s important that you always swallow benzonatate capsules whole. The capsules should not be sucked, chewed, broken, or crushed.
If you have concerns about blood pressure issues and taking benzonatate, talk with your doctor.
Will benzonatate keep you awake at night?
No, benzonatate isn’t expected to interfere with sleep. Studies of benzonatate didn’t report increased energy or problems sleeping.
In extreme cases, taking benzonatate can cause instances of “bizarre” or unusual behavior, including severe confusion. It’s possible that this side effect could keep you awake at night. During your benzonatate treatment, you and a close family member or loved one should watch for “bizarre” or unusual behavior. If you notice any, you should receive immediate medical care.
It’s important to note that sedation is a side effect reported in studies of benzonatate. This means you could have excessive sleepiness during treatment.
Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about taking benzonatate.
Does benzonatate cause long-term side effects?
No, benzonatate isn’t expected to cause long-term side effects. Long-term side effects were not reported in studies of benzonatate.
Side effects occurring during treatment should be temporary or go away once you stop treatment.
That said, your experience with benzonatate may differ from how it affects other people. If you have concerns or think you’re experiencing long-term side effects from benzonatate, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Coupon for benzonatate
Visit this page to access Optum Perks coupons and get price estimates for benzonatate when you use the coupons. These coupons can provide significant savings on your prescription costs.
Note: Optum Perks coupons cannot be used with any insurance copays or benefits.
Side effects of benzonatate in detail
Below you’ll find details on some of the side effects of benzonatate oral capsule.
Taking benzonatate can cause hallucinations as a side effect. It’s not known exactly how often this side effect occurred in studies.
Your risk of hallucinations during benzonatate treatment is higher if you also take other drugs that can cause hallucinations. Examples of these other drugs include:
- certain sleep medications, such as zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta)
- benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonopin)
- antipsychotic medications, including quetiapine (Seroquel) and olanzapine (Zyprexa)
Ways to manage
Be sure to discuss your mental health with your doctor before you take benzonatate. Having a mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder, may raise your risk of hallucinations with benzonatate.
If you experience hallucinations during benzonatate treatment, call your doctor immediately. They’ll likely recommend that you stop taking the drug.
Numbness or tingling in your mouth, throat, or face
Taking benzonatate capsules improperly may cause numbness or tingling in your mouth, throat, or face. This occurs if you suck, chew, break, or crush the capsules inside your mouth. Always swallow the capsules whole.
While this side effect is usually temporary, it can increase your risk of choking.
Ways to manage
If you have numbness or tingling in your mouth, throat, or face after taking benzonatate, do not drink or eat until your symptoms go away. If your symptoms don’t go away, seek medical care at the closest urgent care center or emergency room.
To lower your risk of this side effect, swallow benzonatate capsules whole. Do not suck, chew, break, or crush the capsules.
For some people, benzonatate oral capsule can cause an allergic reaction. It’s not known how often this side effect occurred in studies.
Symptoms can be mild or serious, and they may include:
- skin rash
- swelling under the skin, usually affecting eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
- swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe
- flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
Ways to manage
For mild allergic reaction symptoms, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may recommend treatments to help manage your symptoms. They’ll also let you know if you should keep taking the medication.
For severe allergic reaction symptoms, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms require immediate medical care because they can become life threatening. If you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to benzonatate oral capsule, your doctor may recommend taking a different medication instead.
What to ask your doctor
This article describes common and serious side effects of benzonatate oral capsule. If your doctor prescribes this medication, they can discuss possible side effects with you. Let your doctor know if you have concerns or questions about treatment with this medication.
Here’s a list of some possible questions you may want to ask your doctor:
- Does my health history place me at higher risk of side effects from taking benzonatate?
- If I have side effects from taking benzonatate, is there a lower dose I can take to still treat my cough?
- What should I do if I have daytime sleepiness while taking benzonatate?
- Am I at higher risk of side effects from taking benzonatate because of my age?
Disclaimer: Optum Perks has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
- Benzonatate- benzonatate capsule. (2023). https://nctr-crs.fda.gov/fdalabel/services/spl/set-ids/77b51a56-43e8-4be0-b993-28b1cecdbf14/spl-doc
- Bishop-Freeman SC, et al. (2017). Benzonatate toxicity: Nothing to cough at. https://academic.oup.com/jat/article/41/5/461/3065311
- Food and Drug Administration. (2023). Orange Book: Approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/ob/index.cfm
- Food and Drug Administration. (2023). Purple Book: Database of licensed biological products. https://purplebooksearch.fda.gov