Everything You Need to Know About Benzonatate (Tessalon Perles)

June 25, 2024 | 10 minute read

Product Information on Benzonatate

What is Benzonatate (Tessalon Parles)?

Benzonatate, also known as Tessalon Perles, is a prescription oral medication that helps relieve and suppress cough in patients over the age of ten. It is the sole non-narcotic antitussive option on the market and works by desensitizing the lung and pleura tissues involved in the cough reflex. The FDA approved Benzonatate in 1958.

Pronunciation: (ben ZOE na tate)

Brand Names (US): Tessalon Perles [DSC], Tessalon, Zonatuss

Drug class: Antitussives

Availability: Prescription-only

What is Benzonatate Used For?

Benzonatate is a medication primarily used to relieve coughing.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take this drug?

Consideration Details
Allergies Inform your doctor about any allergies to drugs, foods, or substances.
Drug Interactions Ensure your healthcare provider knows all the medications and supplements you are taking.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Safety Precautions While Taking Benzonatate

Precaution Details
Healthcare Providers Inform all healthcare providers that you are taking benzonatate.
Alertness Avoid activities requiring alertness until you know how benzonatate affects you.
Children Keep out of reach of children; accidental overdose can be fatal.

Frequently asked questions about Benzonatate

Here are the FAQs for Benzonatate:

  1. What is Benzonatate used for?
    • Benzonatate is a cough suppressant used to relieve coughs caused by the common cold or upper respiratory infections. It works by numbing the cough reflex in your throat.
  2. How to take Benzonatate?
    • It's crucial to swallow Benzonatate capsules whole. Chewing, sucking, or crushing them can cause serious side effects. Take it exactly as directed by your doctor, typically one capsule every 8-12 hours, not exceeding the recommended dosage.
  3. What are the side effects of Benzonatate?
    • Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, and mild stomach upset. More serious side effects, like allergic reactions or seizures, are rare but require immediate medical attention.
  4. Who should not take Benzonatate?
    • Benzonatate is not recommended for children under 10, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or people with a history of allergic reactions to the medication.
  5. What happens if I overdose on Benzonatate?
    • Overdose on Benzonatate can be serious, especially in children. Symptoms can include seizures, hallucinations, and coma. If you suspect an overdose, seek immediate medical attention.

Proper Usage

For proper usage, follow these instructions carefully:

  • Take the capsules exactly as directed by your doctor.
  • Swallow them whole with plenty of non-caffeinated drinks like water or juice.
  • Don't chew, break, open, or dissolve the capsules.
  • Avoid sucking on them, as this might affect how they work.
  • If you have any questions about how to take the capsules, talk to your doctor.

Here's the typical dosage for adults and children over 10 for Tessalon Perles cough relief:

  • Take 1-2 capsules, three times a day.
  • Each capsule is usually 100mg.
  • The absolute most you should take in a day is 6 capsules (600mg).


  • This is a general guideline. Always follow your doctor's instructions for the right dosage for you.
  • Don't take more than directed.
  • If you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of your medication, the action you take depends on how you normally take it. For regularly scheduled medication, take the missed dose as soon as you remember, but skip it if it's close to your next scheduled dose. Never take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If your medication is taken "as needed," don't take more often than prescribed, even if you miss a dose. Always consult your doctor if you're unsure about what to do after missing a dose.

Storage and Disposal

  • Storage: Store benzonatate at room temperature, away from light and moisture. Avoid storing it in the bathroom.
  • Disposal: Dispose of unused or expired benzonatate properly. Consult your pharmacist about local drug take-back programs. Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them down the drain unless instructed to do so.

Additional Tips for Safe Use

  • Symptom Monitoring: Contact your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or worsen.
  • Medication Sharing: Never share your medications with others and do not take anyone else's medication.
  • Information Access: Your pharmacist may provide additional patient information leaflets. Consult with your healthcare provider if you have any questions.

Emergency Situations

In case of overdose, contact your poison control center or seek immediate medical care. Be prepared to provide details on what was taken, how much, and when it occurred.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about Benzonatate right away?

Although rare, some people may experience severe and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction (rash, hives, itching, swelling, trouble breathing)
  • Behavioral changes or confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Numbness or tingling in the mouth, tongue, throat, or face (especially if the drug is broken, chewed, or sucked before swallowing)

Common Side Effects

While many people do not experience side effects, some may have minor ones.

Contact your doctor if these persist or become bothersome:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Stuffy nose
  • Upset stomach

Understanding Benzonatate (Tessalon Perles) Side Effects: Timing and Duration

When They Start:

  • Benzonatate begins to work within 15-20 minutes after you swallow the capsule whole.
  • Side effects can also appear within this time, especially if you accidentally chew or suck on the capsule.

How Long They Last:

  • The effects of Benzonatate last for about 3-8 hours.
  • Some side effects, like feeling drowsy or constipated, may last the same amount of time.
  • If you experience severe side effects, they might last longer and you should talk to a doctor.

Consumer Information Disclaimer

This content provides a general overview of benzonatate, including its uses, potential side effects, and safety measures. It is not a comprehensive guide and should not replace medical advice from your healthcare provider. Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized medical advice and treatment options.

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