Benzocaine (Oral, Oromucosal)

Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that is available over-the-counter without a prescription. These lozenges and sprays offer users temporary relief from the symptoms of sore throats, canker sores, and other ailments that affect the throat and mouth.

Overview

An over-the-counter medication, Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that numbs the mouth and throat, thus relieving the pain and discomfort associated with a sore throat, cough, and canker sores. It is typically taken as a lozenge or spray.

While this medication is available without a prescription, it is important for patients to always inform their physicians of any drugs or medications that they are taking. As always, your doctor should be aware of all medications, including over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and vitamin and mineral supplements.

This medication serves as a temporary anesthetic that numbs the mouth and throat and lessens the pain and discomfort that can be associated with mild illnesses such as canker sores, sore throats, and the discomfort caused by coughs and colds. This medication is not intended for long-term use or for treatment of more serious ailments such as infection, open sores, and symptoms that linger for longer than a few days.

If you are taking benzocaine for the treatment of a mild sore throat or other slight discomfort caused by mouth or throat ailments, it is not recommended for use longer than a few days without the advice of your doctor. This medication is not intended for long-term use. If your sore throat or other symptoms persist longer than one week, it may be a sign of infection or a more serious ailment, and it is advised that you seek medical attention.

Condition(s) Treated

  • Canker Sores, Sore Throat, Mild Discomfort Caused by Coughs and Colds

Type of Medicine

  • Anesthetic, Local

Side Effects

This over-the-counter treatment is not intended for long-term use and these side effects may be the sign of an infection or a more serious underlying ailment. If your symptoms do not dissipate within a few days, it is advised that you seek medical attention. Unless advised by your doctor, you should not take benzocaine lozenges or sprays for more than a few days.

The side effects that are the most common with the use of benzocaine include the following that can be sporadic or may not occur in every instance:

  • Vomiting
  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Worsening of pain, redness, swelling, or irritation in or around the mouth
  • Nausea

Seek medical advice if you experience any of the above as it may signal an infection or a worsening medical situation. These side effects may be from the benzocaine or they may also signify a more serious underlying condition. It is advised that if you experience any of the above that you seek medical attention. Benzocaine is intended for the temporary treatment of mild symptoms; it is not an effective treatment of infections, open sores, or more serious throat and mouth conditions.

Dosage

As this is a non-prescription medication it is vital to follow the instructions listed on the packaging as closely as possible. Do not take this drug for more than a few days without first consulting with your doctor or healthcare provider.

The typical dosage for adults and children older than five years of age is to take one lozenge and allow it to slowly dissolve on the tongue. Wait for a period of at least two hours before taking another lozenge. Do not take more than the recommended dose as the higher level of medication may cause it to be absorbed into the body in unsafe amounts.

This medication is not recommended for use in children who are younger than five years of age. If your child is experiencing a sore throat or other symptoms usually treated with benzocaine, check with their pediatrician for advice on other medications that are more suitable for use by young children.

This drug is taken as needed, so there is no worry of missed doses. If your symptoms persist or return prior to the two hour time period between doses, it is best to consult your doctor for advice on how to treat these persisting symptoms.

Major Drug Interactions

This over-the-counter medication does not have any known interactions with other major drugs, although it is always important to inform your physician or health care professional of all drugs and medications that you are taking including both prescription and non-prescription. If you are taking any prescription medications it is recommended that you consult with your doctor prior to taking benzocaine.

Warnings

If you experience a high fever, nausea and vomiting, with or without a headache, consult your doctor as these symptoms may be a sign of an infection. Benzocaine is not recommended for the treatment of infection or serious sore throats, and if you are experiencing either one of these ailments you will need to seek medical attention.

As with any medication, alcohol and tobacco use should be limited when taking this over-the-counter remedy. Do not take more than the recommended amount of the drug, and do not continue taking it for a time period longer than that advised on the packaging, usually two days. Symptoms that persist for longer than a few days may indicate a more serious ailment and medical attention should be sought. Your doctor can recommend a stronger or more appropriate medication in those instances.

Any large sores or oral infection that is present in the mouth area should be discussed with your doctor. The use of benzocaine lozenges and sprays is intended for the temporary relief of mild symptoms such as a sore throat and other discomforts of the mouth and throat. This medicine is not intended for use in the treatment of infection, open sores, and sore throats that persist longer than a few days.

This medication is intended for short-term use and if your symptoms persist you will need to check with your doctor after taking benzocaine for two days, it is not advised to take this medication for a longer time period without first consulting with your doctor or medical care provider.

Patients are advised to wait at least two hours between doses and it is important that no more than the recommended dose be taken. If your symptoms persist longer than two days, check with your doctor before continuing to take this medication.

Symptoms that last longer than seven days may be a sign of infection, and, in those cases, patients should seek medical advice and cease taking the benzocaine until directed by their physician to do so. Sore throats that last longer than a few days may be a symptom of a more serious medical condition and should be checked by your doctor. They may also order blood work or another diagnostic test, such as a chest X-ray to look for a more serious underlying condition that is causing the sore throat.

Storage

It is always best to keep medications in their original packaging, and the same holds true for over-the-counter medications. Keep the lozenges away from excess heat as that may cause them to melt. Store the lozenges and sprays in a dry and cool location, it is not recommended that you store this medication in the bathroom.

Summary

Benzocaine lozenges and sprays offer effective treatment for the pain and discomfort that is caused by sore throats, canker sores, and other ailments of the throat and mouth. It is not intended for long-term use, and it is advised that patients consult with their doctor prior to using this medication for a period longer than two days.

This medication is not recommended for use when there are open sores present in the area, or if there is an infection of the mouth. The drug is intended to treat mild sore throats and canker sores that do not linger for longer than a few days. If your symptoms persist or worsen it is advised that the patient checks with their physician about alternative remedies.

The use of alcohol and tobacco should be avoided when taking benzocaine lozenges and sprays as they can cause unwanted side effects. Tobacco use will also worsen any throat or mouth condition and should not be used when you have a cough, cold, sore throat, or canker sores. This OTC medication provides effective relief of mild symptoms associated with coughs and colds and is not intended to treat more serious ailments. If your symptoms do not clear up after one week, it is recommended that you call your doctor, as this may be a sign of a more serious ailment or of an infection.

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Last Reviewed:
December 25, 2017
Last Updated:
April 02, 2018
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