benzonatate Nursing Considerations & Management

Drug Name

Generic Name: benzonatate
Brand Name: Benzonatate Softgels, Tessalon, Tessalon Perles

Classification: Antitussive (nonopioid)

Pregnancy Category C

Dosage & Route


  • 100–200 mg PO tid; up to 600 mg/day may be used.
Therapeutic actions
  • Related to the local anesthetic tetracaine; anesthetizes the stretch receptors in the respiratory passages, lungs, and pleura, hampering their activity and reducing the cough reflex at its source.
  • Symptomatic relief of nonproductive cough
  • Unlabeled use: May be used to reduce cough reflex during procedures (ie, endoscopy)
Adverse effects
  • CNS: Sedation, headache, mild dizziness, hallucinations, nasal congestion, sensation of burning in the eyes
  • Dermatologic: Pruritus, skin eruptions
  • GI: Constipation, nausea, GI upset
  • Other: Vague “chilly” feeling, numbness in the chest
  • Contraindicated with allergy to benzonatate or related compounds (tetracaine); lactation.
  • Use cautiously with pregnancy.
Nursing considerations
  • History: Allergy to benzonatate or related compounds (tetracaine); lactation, pregnancy
  • Physical: Nasal mucous membranes; skin color, lesions; orientation, affect; adventitious sounds
  • WARNING: Administer orally; caution patient not to chew or break capsules but to swallow them whole; choking could occur if drug released in the mouth.
Teaching points
  • Swallow the capsules whole; do not chew or break capsules because numbness of the throat and mouth could occur, and swallowing could become difficult.
  • You may experience these side effects: Rash, itching (skin care may help); constipation, nausea, GI upset; sedation, dizziness (avoid driving or tasks that require alertness).
  • Report restlessness, tremor, difficulty breathing, constipation, rash, bizarre behavior.