Medically Reviewed by Dr. Harshi Dhingra, M.D.

Last Reviewed: Jan 11, 2023


What are the risks of taking benzonatate (Tessalon)?

Benzonatate can cause serious side effects and health complications in some people. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist if these risks concern you.

  • SERIOUS ALLERGIC REACTION: A small number of people can experience a severe allergic reaction to benzonatate, including life-threatening anaphylaxis (throat closing). Other signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction can include rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the lips or tongue. Call 911 or seek emergency medical care if this occurs. The risk of allergic reactions is higher if you suck or chew a benzonatate capsule. Be sure to swallow the capsule whole with a full glass of water. This medication is not suitable for people who have swallowing problems. If this is the case, discuss alternative cough suppressants with your healthcare provider. 

  • CONFUSION AND HALLUCINATIONS: Rarely, benzonatate can cause severe dizziness, mental confusion, and/or hallucinations. The risk of this occurring is higher in people taking other medications that can cause similar side effects. Give your doctor and pharmacist a complete list of your medications before taking benzonatate. 

  • OVERDOSE AND DEATH IN CHILDREN: Accidental ingestion of benzonatate by a young child under 10 years old can lead to death. The effects occur within 15-20 minutes, and death can occur within an hour. Symptoms may include restlessness, tremors (shaking), convulsions, and unconsciousness. Keep benzonatate securely out of reach of children, preferably in a child-resistant container. If a child accidentally swallows a benzonatate capsule, call 911 or immediately take them to the emergency room for medical help

What should I tell my doctor before taking benzonatate (Tessalon)?

Tell your doctor if you are allergic to benzonatate, any active or inactive ingredients in benzonatate capsules, other topical numbing medicines such as procaine (Novocain) and tetracaine (in Synera), or any other drugs. Your pharmacy can provide you with a list of ingredients.

Give your health care professional and pharmacist a complete list of all your medicines, including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs (over-the-counter medicines), vitamins, supplements, and herbal products. This can help avoid serious drug interactions.

Give your doctor a complete medical history. This medication may not be suitable for people with a medical condition that causes swallowing problems.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, could be pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. This medication passes into breast milk and can cause side effects in a nursing infant.

What precautions should I take while taking benzonatate (Tessalon)?

Keep all your appointments with your healthcare provider. Follow your doctor’s dosing instructions and take benzonatate exactly as directed.

Seek emergency medical care if you experience serious symptoms of an allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips or tongue, rash or hives, confusion, or hallucinations.

Tell your doctor if you become pregnant while taking benzonatate.

What are benzonatate (Tessalon) drug interactions?

Taking certain other medicines along with benzonatate can affect benzonatate and increase the risk of severe side effects. Your physician may choose a different drug combination, change the dose or frequency of your medicines, and/or monitor you carefully for side effects if there are possible drug interactions between benzonatate and your other medicines. 

Give your doctor or pharmacist a full list of your medications, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements, vitamins, and herbal products. Also, tell your healthcare providers if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs because some of these substances can cause serious health complications when used with prescription drugs.