These Social Media 'Medicine Challenges' Can Have Dangerous Outcomes For Kids

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently warned parents of the latest social media trend involving cooking NyQuil in chicken. This concoction might sound unpalatable, and the FDA says it's extremely dangerous. When medications are boiled, they become highly concentrated. Breathing in the vapors while cooking NyQuil or other over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can be lethal to the lungs.

According to the National Capital Poison Center, NyQuil contains acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, doxylamine, and phenylephrine. The medicine is safe when taken appropriately. Acetaminophen can damage the liver if taken in high doses. Concentrated doses of dextromethorphan can cause hallucinations and heart problems. It can even cause serotonin syndrome, which can cause seizures, high fever, and tremors that can be life-threatening (via Mayo Clinic). Doxylamine can cause dizziness, and phenylephrine can cause a heart attack if taken incorrectly (via National Capital Poison Center).

The "sleepytime chicken" challenge isn't the first social media trend involving OTC medicines. An earlier FDA advisory warned about taking large amounts of diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to induce hallucinations. The "Benadryl challenge" sent many teenagers to emergency rooms with serious heart problems, seizures, and coma. Some of the overdoses led to death.

How you can protect your children from harmful social media challenges

The FDA advises moving any prescriptions and OTC medicine away from the reach of small children. You might consider locking up some of these drugs to deter tampering. The FDA advises having conversations with your children about the harmful effects of abusing medicine and how social media trends can cause damage to the body.

You can also talk to your children about how to be more responsible on social media. According to Common Sense Media, ask your children if they've considered doing a social media challenge. Encourage them to talk to you before they participate to be sure it's safe. This includes the possible outcomes and side effects, and what they hope to gain as a result. If it's attention, ask them to look into the future and see how this challenge might affect their lives. Common Sense Media also suggests encouraging your children to participate in challenges that foster a healthy community, such as dancing or global awareness.