This social media ‘challenge’ could have serious consequences

This social media ‘challenge’ could have serious consequences

Challenges are flooding social media as way for people to connect and pass the time. While some are fun like dancing or playing a game, others are more dangerous and, in some cases, can be deadly.

A recent social media challenge has teens overdosing on Diphenhydramine. Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine used to treat allergies and is commonly found in many over-the-counter allergy, cold and cough medications. The challenge is for a person to hallucinate or “trip” by taking too many pills.

In Oklahoma, the challenge is being linked to the death of a 15-year-old. It’s also connected to several hospitalizations. It’s a result that doesn’t surprise Dr. Kevin Dahlman, Medical Director for Aurora Children’s Health in Milwaukee. He says Diphenhydramine has several side effects including drowsiness, but taking more than the recommended dosage can have serious consequences.

“Respiratory depression is the most severe side effect that occurs with overdoses which may lead to coma or death,” explains Dr. Dahlman.

Keeping over-the-counter medications in a home is helpful when they are used properly. However, Dr. Dahlman advises anyone with children or teens in their home to have a conversation about medication safety and keep medications of all kinds properly stored.

“For younger children, keep medications out of reach and in their original child-lock bottles. For older children, talk to them about medications and how when used properly only with adult supervision can medications be helpful, but if used improperly can cause one to get really sick or die,” Dr. Dahlman says.

Beyond the medicine cabinet, it’s important to talk with teens and children about the trendy challenges on social media and make sure they understand potential consequences.

“Teach your children to question the wisdom of any and all challenges. Talk about what can happen. Remember that while teenagers can understand cause and effect, teenage brains are wired to take risks and deny the possibility of anything bad happening to them,” says Dr. Dahlman.

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LeeAnn Betz

LeeAnn Betz, health enews contributor, is a media relations manager for Advocate Aurora Health. She is a former TV news executive producer with a background in investigations, consumer news and in-depth storytelling. Outside of work, she enjoys CrossFit, baking, finding a good cup of coffee and being a mom.