In its basic form, lidocaine hydrochloride is a white powder without smell and with a bitter taste that is used both in human and veterinary medicine. The drug is also known as lignocaine hydrochloride, and is used as a local anesthetic and to regulate certain medical problems related to heart rhythm. Injections of it are used to provide local anesthesia during various minor surgical procedures. It is also available in various topical preparations, such as gels, sprays, creams, and ointments that are usually applied to the skin or the mucous membranes. This drug was first manufactured in Sweden in 1943 and was then named xylocaine.
When used for anesthetic purposes, lidocaine hydrochloride works by blocking certain functions of the nervous system, inhibiting the transmission of pain impulses from the treated area to the brain. It is a fast-acting form of local anesthesia that often starts to work within five minutes. The effects wear off in a relatively short time, often a couple of hours, because the drug is quickly metabolized by the liver.
Gels, creams, and other topical treatments containing this compound are available without a prescription and can be used to relieve various kinds of itching, skin irritation, and pain. For example, lidocaine creams can be used to treat burns, sunburns, shingles, and jellyfish stings. It can also be used to relieve the pain of urethritis, a urinary tract inflammation. In hospitals, lidocaine jelly is used when a patient is intubated through the mouth or nose to numb the affected area when the tube is inserted.
This drug is also available in liquid form and is then often injected. An injection can be used to provide local anesthesia during minor surgical procedures like eye surgery, dental surgery, and throat surgery. It is also used to treat certain forms of heart arrhythmia, meaning conditions where the heartbeat is irregular because the chambers of the heart are not functioning properly. Lidocaine hydrochloride injections are only available by prescription and under medical supervision, as in a hospital, doctor's office, or medical clinic.
This compound has few side effects when used as a topical treatment, but they are more common when the drug is injected, and occur most often in the case of overdose. Possible side effects include itching, rash, breathing problems, nausea, and slow heartbeat. People over the age of 65 and those with various medical issues, such as kidney or liver problems, are more susceptible to adverse side effects from lidocaine injections.