Is this dangerous social media trend making a comeback?

Is this dangerous social media trend making a comeback?

For the love of internet popularity in the form of likes and retweets, a viral internet challenge that first emerged in 2013 is reportedly making a comeback: the condom snorting challenge. (Then again, it sure looks like media reports of a revival have been massively overblown.)

What does this viral challenge involve? To complete, a person is “challenged” to snort an uncoiled condom up the nose through the nasal cavity and into the throat, where it is pulled out of the mouth.

The condom snorting challenge is not unlike other viral challenges that have caused many people to raise their eyebrows. Not too long ago, teenagers were posting videos of themselves ingesting Tide Pods. Before that, it was cinnamon. Not surprisingly, the Tide Pod and cinnamon challenges posed many great health dangers, and, in this regard, the condom snorting challenge is no different.

Among many risks, Dr. Michael Friedman, an otolaryngologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, says snorting a condom could cause bleeding or infection in the nasal passage. More importantly, the choking risk is a major concern.

“Any inhaled balloon or condom can go straight to the larynx and obstruct the airway,” says Dr. Friedman. “Once the condom is inhaled through and to the back of the nose en route to the mouth, there is very little control to keep it from getting sucked down to the airway.”

What makes this challenge different, though, is that the surge of concern appears to be associated with a five-year-old story. Despite a blitz of recent media coverage – including from CBS, FOX News, and USAToday – suggesting the condom snorting challenge is cause for alarm now, fact-checking site reports “few people appear to have attempted the challenge since 2013.” The Washington Post says the “only thing viral about the condom challenge right now is the moral panic about the idea of teens doing the condom challenge. In a matter of days, word spread from a single local news report to a small army of local and national publications across the world, all warning about a challenge that, in 2018, barely exists.” They’ve broken down how it went viral anyway.

Still, Dr. Friedman cautions against putting anything inside the nose to avoid this choking risk and other damage to the nose and nasal passage.

How’s that for protection?

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About the Author

Jaimie Oh
Jaimie Oh

Jaimie Oh, health enews contributor, is regional manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Health Care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has nearly a decade of experience working in publishing, strategic communications and marketing. Outside of work, Jaimie trains for marathons with the goal of running 50 races before she turns 50 years old.