Benzocaine is used in a wide variety of treatments including to numb the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat during surgery and in over-the-counter gel or liquid forms to alleviate the pain of teething, canker sores, and irritation of the mouth and gums. Benzocaine sprays are marketed under the brand names Hurricaine, Cetacaine, Exactacain, and Topex. Benzocaine gels and liquids are sold over the counter under the brand names Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, Orabase, and store brands, and are also sometimes sold in lozenge form.
Side Effects of Benzocaine
Recent reports suggest that the use of Benzocaine, in any form, may lead to the development of methemoglobinemia, a severe, life-threatening blood disorder. Methemoglobinemia is a rare condition in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced. In the most severe cases, methemoglobinemia can result in death.
Benzocaine Methemoglobinemia Symptoms
Patients who develop methemoglobinemia may experience the following symptoms:
- A severe lack of color in the skin
- Bluish discoloration of the skin
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heart rate
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