The federal agency felt obligated to issue the warning in light of a social media challenge encouraging people to cook chicken in NyQuil and other cough medicine.
The FDA’s release notes that the idea of cooking chicken in cough syrup is “silly and unappetizing.” But it is also potentially dangerous:
Boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways. Even if you don’t eat the chicken, inhaling the medication’s vapors while cooking could cause high levels of the drugs to enter your body. It could also hurt your lungs.
Put simply: Someone could take a dangerously high amount of the cough and cold medicine without even realizing it.
The FDA didn’t cite any actual reports of people who’ve gone to the emergency room after chowing down on “NyQuil chicken.” But the agency mentioned a previous TikTok challenge that urged people to take large doses of the allergy medicine diphenhydramine (sold under the brand name of Benadryl, among others) to try to induce hallucinations, and that it led to reports of teenagers going to the emergency room.
Why are teens more likely to want to participate in bizarre, potentially dangerous stunts on social media?
According to HealthyChildren.org, the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that handles rational thought, isn’t fully developed until a person hits their mid-20s. This is why teens tend to be more impulsive than adults, and why they may be more likely to succumb to the power of social media, which rewards risky and outlandish behavior:
Kids won’t necessarily stop to consider that laundry detergent is a poison that can burn their throats and damage their airways. Or that misusing medications like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and similar medicines can cause serious heart problems, seizures and coma. What they will focus on is that a popular kid in class did this and got hundreds of likes and comments.
Of course, social media users had thoughts...