Benzocaine And Blood Disorders

The Food and Drug Administration is warning that benzocaine–an ingredient found in many over the counter pain gels and liquids–can be dangerous for infants.  Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that’s in products like Anbesol, Orajel & Baby Orajel, Orabase, and Hurricaine.  The FDA cautions that using benzocaine products to stop mouth and gum pain can cause a rare and sometimes fatal condition called methemoglobinemia.  Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder that occurs when the oxygen that’s delivered through blood gets to low levels that can cause severe injury or even death.

The FDA reports that since 2006 there have been 29 reports of benzocaine gel-related cases of methemoglobinemia.  Nineteen of those cases were in children.  Fifteen of those nineteen were children under the age of 2.

The FDA has identified various symptoms to watch for.  Those can include pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips and fingernail beds, shortness of breath, headache, light-headedness, and rapid heart rate.

Adults can also be affected by methemoglobinemia.   Adults who smoke or those with heart disease or respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis or emphysema are at increased risk of complications of methemoglobinemia.

Please feel free to contact me if you have a personal injury or wrongful death or products liability matter that you would like to discuss.  I’ll be happy to see if I can give you a hand.


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