All About The Viral TikTok

Jacob Stevens died after attempting the TikTok Benadryl Challenge

A 13-year-old boy from Ohio, US tragically died after overdosing on over-the-counter medication while attempting a viral TikTok trend, New York Post reported. The teenager died after ingesting 12 to 14 pills of Benadryl, an antihistamine as part of the ‘Benadryl Challenge’ on the social media platform TikTok.

What is the ‘Benadryl Challenge’?

‘Benadryl Challenge’, encourages its users to take dangerous amounts of the over-the-counter-drug diphenhydramine, commonly found in products like Benadryl and other OTC medications. The challenge, which particularly targets teenagers, urges them to take 12-14 pills at a time to induce hallucinations. Participants then record the whole ordeal on TikTok to share their hallucinating experience online. 

The stunt became popular around 2020 when teenagers uploaded their attempts on TikTok, a report by the New York Post said. 

Notably, Benadryl contains diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that temporarily relieves symptoms caused by hay fever, upper respiratory allergies, or the common cold. According to the FDA, diphenhydramine is safe and effective when used as recommended, but higher doses can cause serious heart troubles, seizures, coma, or even death, as per CBS News.

The maximum allowed dose in a 24-hour period for children aged 6 to 12 is six tablets and 12 tablets for adults and children over 12. An overdose can cause symptoms like constipation, dry throat and mouth, dehydration, extreme drowsiness, nausea, tremor, blurry vision, rapid heart rate, seizures, and difficulty urinating.

A similar incident in 2020

In 2020, a 15-year-old Oklahoma girl lost her life after attempting the challenge. At the time, her aunt shared a social media post and wrote, ”This needs to stop taking our kids or putting them in the hospital.” That was the first reported case of death from the social media stunt. 

Following the incident,  manufacturer Johnson & Johnson issued a public advisory, alerting people about the dangers of the online challenge.

”We understand that consumers may have heard about an online “challenge” involving the misuse or abuse of diphenhydramine. The challenge, which involves the ingestion of excessive quantities of diphenhydramine, is a dangerous trend and should be stopped immediately. Benadryl products and other diphenhydramine products should only be used as directed by the label,” a note on the page reads.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also published a public service announcement on misuse of the medicine. 

”Taking higher than recommended doses of the common over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medicine diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma, or even death. 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,” the statement read.

Consumers, parents, and caregivers should store diphenhydramine and all other OTC and prescription medicines up and away and out of children’s reach and sight,” the statement added,

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