What Is Benzonatate Used For?

Benzonatate is approved to suppress coughing in adults and children as young as 10 years old. At this time, there are no universally accepted "off-label" uses for benzonatate. Because this prescription medication must be swallowed whole, it should not be used by anyone who has trouble swallowing capsules.

An Overview of the Uses for Benzonatate

Benzonatate (Tessalon®) is a prescription cough medication. Unlike many other cough medications, benzonatate is not a cough syrup. Instead, it comes in liquid-filled gel capsules.
There are several ways to treat a cough. If the cough is productive (it produces phlegm or mucus), it may be best to use an expectorant such as guaifenesin, which will help thin the mucus. If the cough is not productive (it is a "dry" cough), a cough suppressant is usually a better choice.
Benzonatate is a cough suppressant, which means it will help stop the coughing. Keep in mind, however, that it is almost always best to treat the actual cause of the cough.
Before recommending a cough suppressant, your healthcare provider should try to determine the cause of the cough and treat it directly, instead of just covering up the symptoms with a suppressant. Your healthcare provider will consider questions such as the following:
  • Is there an infection?
  • Is the cough caused by asthma or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?
  • Is the cough a side effect of another medication, such as an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor?
However, even using this approach, it may be necessary to use a cough suppressant at certain times, such as at night, to get some sleep.

How Does Benzonatate Work?

Benzonatate works directly at the lungs and respiratory passages. It probably works as an anesthetic, essentially numbing certain receptors (known as "stretch" receptors) in the lungs and respiratory passages.
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Benzonatate Drug Information

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