Tessalon Perles are a soft gel form of benzonatate (ben-ZO-nat-ate), chemically related to other anesthetic agents such as procaine or tetracaine. Benzonatate is primarily prescribed for the relief of dry cough associated with common colds and influenza. It is not useful for "productive" coughs with a large amount of mucus such as with chronic coughs from smoking, asthma, or emphysema. Its effects last up to eight hours. Tessalon Perles are manufactured by Compumed Inc.
How Does Benzonatate Work?
Benzonatate relieves cough by acting directly on the lungs and the breathing by numbing the throat and lungs, making the cough reflex less active. It may also act on the cough center in the brain. It is a non-opioid, non-narcotic which, if taken as directed, should not cause drowsiness.
Relief of Dry Cough
Chronic dry cough can be annoying, and even painful. In some cases continuous non-productive cough has led to bruising of chest muscles and separation of ribs. Advanced lung disease patients may find that the slightest activities will trigger coughing spells, including talking, eating, sitting up, exposure to cold air and dust, and laughing.
Anecdotal use of benzonatate has been reported by patients diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, or IPF, where a racking dry cough is persistent and debilitating. Since there rarely is much mucus present in these cases, users have reported that Tessalon Perles provide a limited benefit. Since drug treatment for IPF is limited to such therapies as corticosteroids whose side effects may be "worse than the disease", patients may choose to find palliative relief for chronic cough, indicating that physicians are willing to prescribe benzonatate in low to moderate dosages.
Palliative Medicine (January 1998, Volume 12, No. 1) reported that advanced cancer patients with chronic cough benefited from treatment with the nonopioid benzonatate. While opioids such as codeine were considered the "gold standard" treatment, some patients could not tolerate or did not find relief from their severe cough symptoms with codeine or other antitussives such as dextromethorphan (developed as a non-narcotic antitussive.)
Warnings and Side Effects
Because Tessalon Perles may cause drowsiness or dizziness, use caution performing tasks requiring alertness. Milder effects include nasal congestion, a sensation of burning eyes, headache, chills. Others report constipation, nausea, dizziness, and gastro-intestinal upset. More serious reactions reported have included bronchial spasms, cardiovascular problems, and local "anesthetic" reactions due to sucking on or chewing the capsules. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor immediately. The soft gels should be protected from light and humidity, and stored at room temperature.
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