Oklahoma girl, 15, dies from Benadryl overdose months after 3 teens were hospitalized over TikTok challenge
The ‘Benadryl challenge’ motivates teens to take the medicine till they start hallucinating
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA: A teenager died in Oklahoma City last week after she reportedly took a fatal amount of Benadryl for a social media challenge. The ‘Benadryl challenge’ is a new thing on the video-sharing social site TikTok, and under which teenagers reportedly are taking an unsafe amount of the medicine so they can hallucinate.
The identity of the girl who took part in the challenge and died has not been revealed, but KFOR-TV reported that she was a happy and faith-driven teen. She was reportedly not like those who experiment with drugs. “The dose that can cause a hallucination is very close to the dose that can cause something potentially life-threatening. Large doses of Benadryl can cause seizures and, particularly, problems with the heart. The heart tends to go out of rhythm and not pump blood effectively,” Scott Schaeffer, director of the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information, said.
This comes after three teenagers were admitted to the hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, in May after they reportedly took part in the same challenge. One of the teens, who was identified as Rebekah, took 14 Benadryl tablets at mid-night on Memorial Day. “It was scary. She had fractured sentences, hallucinations. Her resting heart rate was 199. We rushed her to the local ER and they decided to transport her to Cook Children’s,” the 14-year-old’s mother, Katie, said. Rebekah’s heart rate became normal the next day and she was released.
Amber Jewison, a hospitalist nurse practitioner at Cook Children’s Medical Center, said: “What struck me was that we had three teens come in for the same thing in one week. None of these patients were trying to harm themselves. They all said they saw videos on TikTok and were curious to try it.” Explaining how harmful Benadryl overdose can prove, Jewison added: “Too much diphenhydramine can cause a high heart rate and trigger arrhythmias. It can also cause hallucinations, seizures and require a catheter to drain urine from the bladder due to not being able to urinate.”
While Katie said: “As a parent, you worry about drugs and you know the signs for drug use. I never thought about having to lock up my allergy medicine. I just want other parents to know about this because it’s dangerous and I had no idea. And I’m angry. These people are essentially prescribing medication without a medical degree and our kids are trusting them.”
Benadryl is the brand name of a medication, known generically as diphenhydramine. It is chiefly used to treat allergies. It is also an anticholinergic drug. “This means that the drug blocks the cholinergic nervous system, which is responsible for saliva production and tear production, and facilitates bodily functions such as urination, heart rate, body temperature, brain function, and eye functioning,” Robert Weber, Pharm.D., an administrator for pharmacy services at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Health.
“Just as an allergic reaction can affect multiple organ systems of the body, Benadryl can affect multiple organ systems,” Ashanti Woods, M.D., a pediatrician at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center, said.