Written by attorney James G. Onder

Teething Pain Medication and Serious Side Effects

In the spring of 2011, the FDA released a serious warning regarding an active ingredient called benzocaine which is widely used in infant teething medications. If your child has suffered life-threatening side effects after using medication containing benzocaine, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer.

Teething is a problem that has long been associated with young infants. Any mother knows that a young baby can experience teething pain long before their teeth erupt. Many babies are given over-the-counter medications for immediate relief by their parents, and their parents usually do so at the advice of their children’s pediatricians or one of their parenting books. One of the most popular methods of soothing a babies teething pain is applying Baby Orajel to the infant’s gums.

Baby Orajel comes in a small tube; it is a clear, bitter and sticky substance that is applied directly onto the painful gums. Parents have been using this home remedy for a great many years without prior knowledge of the dangerous side effects of the active ingredient in Baby Orajel. That active ingredient is called benzocaine. In April of 2011, the FDA issued a warning regarding the use of benzocaine as the active ingredient in teeth pain medications.

Studies have found links to the use of benzocaine containing products and life-threatening side effects in young children, especially in children under the age of two years old. These studies have found a connection between methemoglobinemia, commonly referred to as “blue baby syndrome," and the use of products containing benzocaine. Methemoglobinemia causes the child’s blood to have the inability to carry the appropriate level of oxygen; when a child suffers from blue baby syndrome, their skin will oftentimes turn blue from the lack of oxygen in the blood.

Unfortunately, the symptoms associated with methemoglobinemia often mirror the symptoms of the common cold, and therefore go undetected. This is frequently the case when parents aren’t aware that their child is suffering from an adverse reaction to benzocaine – especially when parents haven’t been properly warned about the drug’s serious side effects.

Methemoglobinemia can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue and shallow breathing – all of which can be misinterpreted as the common cold or flu. Parents can mistake these symptoms for non life-threatening illnesses, which can cause these symptoms to go untreated. Unfortunately, failure to treat methemoglobinemia can result in coma and death for young children.

Although Orajel and Baby Orajel are some of the more popular and widely used drugs containing benzocaine, there are several other over-the-counter products such as Anbesol, Hurricane, Orabase and other brands that contain the dangerous active ingredient. Benzocaine containing products come in different forms; they can be sold in gels, liquids, lozenges and sprays.

To date, products containing benzocaine do not carry a warning notifying consumers of the serious side effects associated with use of the product. However, the FDA has stated that should any child or adult experience any serious side effects after using benzocaine, then they should call 911 and seek immediate medical treatment. Common side effects to look out for include: pale, gray or blue skin, lips or nails, shortness of breath, lethargy, confusion, headache, lightheadedness and rapid, irregular heartbeat. The above symptoms can arise after just one application of the product, or after several applications. If you or someone you love has suffered serious side effects after using a benzocaine product, then you are highly encouraged to contact a lawyer who has experience in dealing with Orajel lawsuits.

Additional resources provided by the author

Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson, LLC is a national law firm that is well versed in cases involving serious injuries caused by the active ingredient benzocaine. They have devoted a significant amount of time in handling lawsuits against the manufacturers of benzocaine containing OTC medications. They have a vast knowledge of side effects associated with such medications and they will use that knowledge to pursue maximum compensation on your behalf. If you or a loved one were injured by one of these products, you want to hire a lawyer who specializes in handling these specific cases, and who isn’t intimidated by the manufacturer. If you would like to learn more about your claim, please contact a St. Louis personal injury lawyer at the Onder Law Firm to schedule an initial consultation today at (877) DRUG-101.

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