FDA issues ‘Benadryl Challenge’ warning as it investigates reports of teen deaths and injuries linked to a TikTok craze and urges the social media site to remove videos
- The FDA issued a warning Thursday about the ‘Benadryl challenge’ on TikTok
- They asked the short video app to remove the videos from the platform
- At least one death has been linked to the social-media fad
- Three others in Texas were hospitalized after swallowing excessive doses
- Teens ingest large doses of the anti-allergy drug to hallucinate
- The FDA warned it could lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma, or even death
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday warned of serious health problems from higher consumption of the common over-the-counter allergy medicine Benadryl following a social media challenge on TikTok.
The higher intake could lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma, or even death, the agency said.
The FDA said it was aware of reports of teenagers getting admitted to emergency rooms or dying after participation in the ‘Benadryl Challenge’ on the short-video app.
In August, an Oklahoma girl allegedly died after taking part in the ‘challenge’ and ingesting large doses of the anti-allergy drug to hallucinate.
The ‘Benadryl challenge’ is the latest health-threatening fad that has taken hold among youngsters on the social media app TikTok, the FDA warned Thursday
Chloe Marie Phillips, 15, of Blanchard, Oklahoma, died in the early morning hours of August 21 after she overdosed on Benadryl while allegedly taking part in the TokTok challenge
The FDA has also contacted contacted TikTok and asked them to remove the videos from their platform, according to Reuters.
‘We are aware of news reports of teenagers ending up in emergency rooms or dying after participating in the “Benadryl Challenge” encouraged in videos posted on the social media application TikTok,’ a statement from the agency read.
‘We are investigating these reports and conducting a review to determine if additional cases have been reported. We will update the public once we have completed our review or have more information to share.
‘We also contacted TikTok and strongly urged them to remove the videos from their platform and to be vigilant to remove additional videos that may be posted,’ it added.
Johnson & Johnson’s Benadryl is used to temporarily relieve symptoms of hay fever, upper respiratory allergies, or the common cold, such as runny nose and sneezing.
The agency asked consumers to keep Benadryl out of children’s sight to prevent misuse and accidental poisoning.
The ‘Benadryl Challenge’ is a dangerous trend and should be stopped immediately, Johnson & Johnson said in a statement, adding that Benadryl and other diphenhydramine products should only be used as directed by the label.
A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson told DailyMail.com: ‘The health and safety of people who use our products is our top priority.
‘The BENADRYL TikTok trend is extremely concerning, dangerous and should be stopped immediately.
‘As with any medicine, abuse or misuse can lead to serious side effects with potentially long-lasting consequences, and BENADRYL products should only be used as directed by the label.
The so-called ‘Benadryl challenge’ is a new game in which teens on TikTok are encouraged to take as many allergy pills as needed in order to hallucinate or trip out
‘It is our strong recommendation that all medications be kept out of the reach of children at all times.
‘We are working with TikTok and our partners to do what we can to stop this dangerous trend, including the removal of content across social platforms that showcase this behavior.’
A TikTok spokesperson told Business Insider that they had not seen it ‘actively trend’ on the platform but that the app ‘actively [removes] content that violates our guidelines’.
A search on the app returns a ‘no results found’ page with a note stating that the term may violate its community guidelines.
“The safety and well-being of our users is TikTok’s top priority. As we make clear in our Community Guidelines, we do not allow content that encourages, promotes, or glorifies dangerous challenges that might lead to injury,’ the spokesperson said.
‘Though we have not seen this content trend on our platform, we actively remove content that violates our guidelines and block related hashtags to further discourage participation. We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behavior whether online or off.’
On August 21, Chloe Marie Phillips, 15, of Blanchard died after allegedly taking an overdose of the drug.
Janette Sissy Leasure, Chloe’s great aunt, posted a now-deleted message on Facebook urging families to be on alert for kids taking part in the ‘Benadryl challenge.’
‘This needs to stop taking our kids or putting them in the hospital,’ she wrote on Facebook, according to The Sun.
‘Don’t let it take anymore kids…I don’t want to see any families go through what we are going through right now,’ she wrote.
Young Chloe is seen above with her father, Dustin Cook, of Blanchard, Oklahoma
Janette Sissy Leasure, Chloe’s great aunt, posted a now-deleted message on Facebook urging families to be on alert for kids taking part in the ‘Benadryl challenge’ after her death
‘Don’t ever say this can’t happen to you. Kids are like, “the other person was okay, so I’ll be okay”. Try to always know what your kids are doing or taking.’
In May, three teens from Fort Worth, Texas, were hospitalized after they swallowed excessive doses of Benadryl as part of the ‘challenge.’
One of the teens, a 14-year-old named ‘Rebekah,’ took 14 Benadryl tablets in the middle of the night on Memorial Day.
‘It was scary. She had fractured sentences, hallucinations. Her resting heart rate was 199,’ Katie, Rebekah’s mother told Checkup.
‘We rushed her to the local ER and they decided to transport her to Cook Children’s.’
Rebekah was admitted to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth and stayed overnight. Her heart rate returned to normal the next morning and she was released.
‘What struck me was that we had three teens come in for the same thing in one week,’ said Amber Jewison, a nurse practitioner at Cook.
‘None of these patients were trying to harm themselves. They all said they saw videos on TikTok and were curious to try it.’
Earlier this year, kids took part in the new ‘skull breaker challenge’ that went viral on TikTok. The practice involves three participants who jump straight up, with the two people on the side kicking inwards to knock the person in the middle off his feet and onto his head
Benadryl is the brand name of the anti-allergy, over-the-counter drug known generically as diphenhydramine.
A sedating antihistamine, it works to block the release of chemicals in the body’s cells that are released as part of the immune system’s response to an allergy.
The National Institutes of Health says antihistamines are used to treat allergies in addition to gastrointestinal conditions caused by excessive stomach acids.
Benadryl is also an anticholinergic drug that impacts the cholinergic nervous system, which regulates key bodily functions like saliva and tear production, urination, heart rate, body temperature, brain function, and eye function.
Taking too much Benadryl can have severe effects on one’s overall health.
‘Just as an allergic reaction can affect multiple organ systems of the body, Benadryl can affect multiple organ systems,’ Ashanti Woods, a pediatrician at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center, tells Health.
‘It’s fine in small doses but taking large doses is a bad idea,’ added Gina Posner, a board-certified pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.
Benadryl’s own website recommends that children under the age of 6 avoid taking it altogether.
Children between the ages of 6 and 12 are to take just 1 tablet every four-to-six hours while anyone over the age of 12 is to take no more than 2 tablets every four-to-six hours – unless directed otherwise by a doctor.
Excessive doses of Benadryl can have severe health repercussions for both children and adults, who may suffer from high body temperature, confusion, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, unsteadiness, high blood pressure, and hallucinations.
The National Capital Poison Center also warns of the extreme dangers of overdosing when mixing antihistamines like Benadryl with other pain medications and decongestants.
In recent years, youngsters on social media have taken part in dangerous viral ‘challenges,’ including the ‘skull breaker challenge’ and the ‘Tide Pod challenge,’ that left a number of them hospitalized and have alarmed parents.
The idea of tripping on Benadrly has been on the internet even before TikTok came into fashion.
According to Insider, Tana Mongeau, who now has over 5 million YouTube subscribers, posted a video to the platform titled, ‘I OVERDOSED ON BENADRYL & TRIPPED LIKE ACID: STORYTIME’ in 2016.
The video remains on YouTube along with other videos talking about Benadryl trip experiences.