7 Key Facts About Benzonatate and Mucinex

Picture this: you’re feeling under the weather as you roam the pharmacy aisles while awaiting your doctor’s prescription. Amidst the array of products, your gaze lands on Mucinex. Recalling the TV commercials, you wonder if it could offer relief. Would combining benzonatate and Mucinex be a better approach?

Your contemplation is disrupted by another bout of painful coughing. All you want is to ease the relentless coughing, and you start considering whether two medications might work better than one.

But hold on… is it safe to take benzonatate and Mucinex together?

1. What Are Benzonatate and Mucinex?


Benzonatate, available both as a generic medication and under the brand name Tessalon Perles, has been FDA-approved since the 1950s and is widely utilized.

These gel-like capsules serve as a non-narcotic cough suppressant. This stands in contrast to most other cough suppressants, which often contain narcotics and carry the risk of addiction and side effects like drowsiness.

Benzonatate functions by numbing certain parts of the respiratory system. In the lung’s muscle fibers, there are stretch receptors that monitor the volume of inhaled air. Benzonatate numbs these pulmonary stretch receptors, reducing the cough reflex and preventing excessive coughing.

Your doctor typically prescribes benzonatate for dry coughs that do not produce mucus.

2. Does Benzonatate Address Mucus?

Benzonatate does not address mucus production; instead, it suppresses the cough reflex. This proves valuable when coughing becomes painful or interferes with your sleep, as rest is crucial for the body’s recovery during illness.

If your cough produces mucus, it’s advisable to delay benzonatate use, especially until bedtime, as excessive mucus aids in clearing the respiratory tract naturally.

3. How Quickly Does Benzonatate Take Effect?

When you’re plagued by relentless coughing and urgently need relief, waiting for medication to kick in can feel agonizing.

Fortunately, benzonatate works relatively swiftly. Typically, within 15-20 minutes of taking a dose, you should start experiencing relief.

Pro tip from pharmacists: For faster relief, take the medication with a full glass of water. Not only does this aid hydration during illness, but it also accelerates drug absorption. The effects of benzonatate typically last between 4 to 8 hours, making it well-suited for bedtime use to ensure a cough-free night.


Mucinex, the brand name for guaifenesin, has been available for many years. It’s obtainable over-the-counter (OTC) at pharmacies, but your doctor can also prescribe it. Guaifenesin assists in thinning mucus produced in response to irritants entering the lungs and triggering an immune response.

The respiratory tract is lined with mucous membranes that secrete mucus, which is essential for trapping tiny particles inhaled during breathing. Cilia, hairlike structures, then facilitate the removal of these trapped particles from the body. Examples of substances eliminated through this process include dust, bacteria, viruses, pollen, and smoke.

When the immune system becomes involved, mucus production escalates, leading to symptoms like chest congestion, stuffiness, and drainage.

Mucinex, when coupled with adequate water intake, helps thin the mucus, facilitating its easier expulsion from the body.

Pros and Cons

Benzonatate Pros:

  • Rapidly alleviates coughing, typically within 15 minutes.
  • Suitable for various causes of cough, including colds, asthma, or bronchitis.
  • Non-drowsy, ideal for staying alert while managing cough.
  • Few side effects and minimal interactions with other medications.

Mucinex Pros:

  • Loosens mucus for easier clearance of congestion.
  • Available in various dosage forms, such as tablets, liquid, and syrup.
  • Extended-release version, requiring only twice-daily dosing.
  • Widely used with few side effects.

Benzonatate Cons:

  • Pearl-like capsules may be challenging to swallow.
  • Requires three daily doses for consistent cough relief.
  • Capsule may cause mouth numbness if not swallowed whole.
  • Potentially dangerous for children under 10 years old.

Mucinex Cons:

  • Must be taken with adequate water to be effective on mucus.
  • Possible side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Often included in combination products with unnecessary ingredients.
  • Studies suggest guaifenesin alone is only slightly more effective than a placebo.

4. Can You Take Mucinex and Benzonatate Together?

Given the pros and cons, you may be curious about combining benzonatate and Mucinex. Here’s some good news:

  1. There are no known drug interactions between benzonatate and Mucinex.
  1. Mucinex can promote the production of thinner mucus, potentially transforming a dry, unproductive cough into one that expels mucus from the respiratory tract.
  1. Benzonatate can prevent painful coughing or sleep disturbances.
  1. A small study suggests that the combination of benzonatate and Mucinex may be more effective at suppressing cough than either medication alone.
  1. Beware of Misleading Advice!

Don’t blindly trust all online information regarding benzonatate and Mucinex. Some websites claim that these drugs should not be used concurrently.

Their reasoning suggests that Mucinex is meant to thin mucus for expulsion, but if benzonatate suppresses coughing, the thinned mucus may not be expelled. However, research has demonstrated that combining benzonatate and Mucinex can actually reduce coughing. Remember, your respiratory tract features cilia—small, hairlike structures—that aid in mucus removal. Thinner mucus can be cleared without excessive coughing.

Ultimately, consult your doctor or pharmacist before using both medications. You should have answers to the following questions:

  • Why did your doctor prescribe benzonatate?
  • How long have you been experiencing coughing?
  • Is your cough productive or non-productive?

6. Avoid Combination Products

Unfortunately, most over-the-counter drugs contain multiple active ingredients. This can lead to patients taking unnecessary medications, which can be costly and risky. The alluring marketing tactics employed on product labels often persuade consumers to take drugs that may interact with other medications or medical conditions.

In most cases, these additional active ingredients offer little extra benefit for the specific ailment being treated. They also tend to increase costs.

7. Read the Label

Your doctor prescribed benzonatate and advised you to use Mucinex. As you peruse the pharmacy aisle, you encounter various Mucinex types and generic options. How do you choose?

Opt for the single-ingredient product. You can identify it by inspecting the label on the package’s side, where only one ingredient, guaifenesin, should be listed. Any other product should be returned to the shelf.

Mucinex is a brand name product, but generic guaifenesin is equally effective and more cost-effective. Look for store brands or other generic options situated next to Mucinex on the pharmacy shelf. Alternatively, seek assistance from your pharmacist in locating the appropriate product.

For generics, scrutinize the label to ensure you’re getting pure guaifenesin without unnecessary additives.

Another avenue to procure guaifenesin is online. Retailers like Amazon offer extended-release generic versions of Mucinex, which can be delivered to your doorstep.

Ingredients to Avoid


These drugs often feature in combination cough and cold products, alleviating allergy-like symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. They can induce drowsiness, which explains their inclusion in cough and cold remedies. Examples include:

Avoid products containing antihistamines, as they may have undesirable side effects, especially for individuals with underlying health conditions, and can interact with numerous other medications.


Everyone desires clear nasal passages for easier breathing, but decongestants, which are often included in many cough and cold remedies, may keep you awake due to their stimulating effects. This is particularly problematic when seeking rest during illness. Additionally, they can elevate blood pressure, posing a risk to individuals with conditions like hypertension, heart problems, or diabetes.

Exercise caution with decongestants, and consult your doctor before use.


These medications, similar to benzonatate, help relieve coughing but do so through different mechanisms. Many contain narcotics, requiring a doctor’s prescription. Over-the-counter, non-narcotic versions are also available. If you’re already taking benzonatate, additional cough-suppressing medication is usually unnecessary, and it may expose you to unnecessary side effects.


Numerous over-the-counter cough and cold products include an array of ingredients to provide comprehensive relief. These often include analgesics, which alleviate everyday aches and pains. The issue lies in these medications potentially duplicating what patients are already taking, leading to complications. Only use products with analgesics if approved by your doctor.