Novocain can be used for dental treatments such as filling cavities or as a spinal anesthetic. It is injected into the spine or the jaw to block the transmission of nerve sensation to the brain. This prevents the patient from realizing pain. Drugs.com indicates that the injection begins working within two to five minutes and lasts about 60 to 90 minutes. As with any medication, Novocain has the potential for side effects.
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Common Side Effects
Most patients tolerate Novocain well when it is used properly. Mild side effects are the most common, according to Drugs.com. These effects may include nervousness, dizziness, blurred vision and tremors. Drugs.com indicates these effects may be brief or progressive. If they are progressive, the side effects may be severe.
Swelling, pain, bruising, tenderness and even rash can occur at the site of injection. These symptoms are considered harmless and not an indication of a negative response to the drug itself. Other potential reactions can include a post-spinal headache, meningismus (symptoms of meningitis without inflammation), arachnoiditis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain), palsies or spinal nerve paralysis, according to Drugs.com. Some individuals may vomit or experience nausea.
Serious Side Effects
While many patients may exhibit mild side effects, Novocain rarely can rapidly lead to convulsions, unconsciousness and even respiratory arrest, according to Drugs.com. Other serious effects can include damage to the central heart tissues, hypotension or hypertension, bradycardia (slowing of the heart beat) and even cardiac arrest, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Serious side effects are more likely if the dose is too large, if the medication is given too frequently or if the medication is absorbed too quickly. The NLM indicates that rescue equipment should be nearby whenever Novocain is administered in the event that serious side effects occur.
Some patients may have a sensitivity or allergy to Novocain. Serious reactions can be fatal. Examples include cutaneous lesions after administration; uticaria (red raised lesions on the skin); edema; trouble breathing; rash; skin itching; and swelling of the face, throat, tongue and/or lips. An allergic reaction can lead to asphyxiation or anaphylactic shock.