The most common benzonatate side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and nasal congestion. Nausea, headache, and upset stomach are also common. Although this medication is usually tolerated by most people, severe side effects and allergic reactions can occur. Serious benzonatate side effects may include seizures, choking, hallucinations, and spasms of the larynx. Severe allergic reactions can include difficulty breathing, chest pain, and wheezing and those experiencing them should seek emergency treatment.
Benzonatate is an antitussive medication, or cough suppressant. The medication reduces the coughing reflex in the air passages and lungs. When benzonatate side effects do occur, they are generally related to taking large doses of the medication, or taking it for prolonged periods of time. When benzonatate side effects do occur, regardless of severity, the health care provider may recommend an alternative treatment plan.
To ensure the safety of benzonatate, the capsules, which are filled with liquid benzonatate, should never be broken. The capsules should be swallowed whole and never chewed, crushed, or dissolved in the mouth. Taking this medication other than in the form that it has been prescribed may contribute to serious benzonatate side effects. If benzonatate comes in contact with the mucus membranes of the mouth, tingling or numbness may occur, triggering a severe reaction. If this occurs, medical help needs to be sought at once.
This medication can sometimes interact with other medications, vitamins, herbal products, or dietary supplements. The health care provider needs to take a complete medical history before prescribing benzonatate to determine if its safe for the individual to take. Benzonatate may not be appropriate for those who are pregnant, breast feeding, or for women who are planning on getting pregnant. This medication may pass through breast milk and affect the baby.
If benzonatate is accidentally taken in large doses, the individual needs emergency medical treatment. Signs of benzonatate overdose can include seizures, restlessness, confusion, and uncontrollable shaking. These symptoms can occur very quickly and if not recognized and treated, an unfavorable prognosis may result. This medication should never be taken when outdated. It should also be thrown away when the cough has resolved.
Alternative remedies to benzonatate include taking over-the-counter cough suppressants, sleeping with a vaporizer, and using prescription cough medications or antibiotics. Coughing can be caused by a bacterial infection, which can be resolved by taking antibiotics. Viral infections that produce coughing, however, will not respond to antibiotic therapy.