The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns the latest viral challenge to consuming the internet could end in emergency rooms.
The so-called Benadryl Challenge encourages TikTok users to consume large amounts of the over-the-counter antihistamine, with the aim of inducing hallucinations. The FDA said it had “strongly encouraged” the social media platform to remove the posts, after receiving several reports of teens landing in hospital or even dying after attempting the challenge.
“We are investigating these reports and conducting a review to determine if any additional cases have been reported,” the agency said, according to CNN. “Healthcare professionals should be aware that the ‘Benadryl Challenge’ occurs in adolescents and warn their caregivers.
Benadryl is safe and effective when used correctly, the FDA said – which usually means in small doses to relieve symptoms of allergies, such as sneezing and a runny nose. The agency advises parents to take precautions to prevent abuse from children who spend more time at home – and with more free time – due to COVID-19.
The alarm bells started ringing earlier this year after a teenager was rushed to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, after consuming 14 tablets of Benadryl, according to healthline.com.
“It was scary,” the teenager’s mother said in a statement from the center. “She had broken sentences, hallucinations. His resting heart rate was 199. As a parent you worry about drugs and you know the signs of drug use. I never thought about having to lock my allergy medication. I just want other parents to know about it because it’s dangerous and I had no idea.
“And I’m angry,” she added. “These people (on TikTok) are basically prescribing drugs without a medical degree and our kids trust them.”