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FDA warns Benadryl Challenge on TikTok is dangerous

The FDA is advising parents to lock up Benadryl and other medicines to avoid misuse by teens and accidental poisonings in younger children.
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: The allergy drug Claritin sits on a shelf next to Benadryl in a pharmacy December 11, 2002 in New York City. The drug is now available in stores nationwide without a prescription. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

HOUSTON — After reports of teens ending up in emergency rooms -- or even dying -- from Benadryl overdoses, the FDA is weighing in. 

The government agency is warning that Benadryl Challenge videos posted on TikTok are dangerous. The videos show people taking multiple, over-the-counter Benadryl capsules to see how high they can get without getting sick.

The FDA warns high doses of the over-the-counter allergy medicine can lead to: 

  • Trouble breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • Serious heart problems
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Or death

Dr. Gaylord Lopez, Director of the Georgia Poison Center, said it's alarming because those who participate are gambling with their lives.

“People want to take enough medicine to get them to the point of hallucinating," he said. "This is where you’re, basically, playing Russian Roulette with dosing."

RELATED: Three North Texas teens hospitalized for Benadryl overdoses following TikTok challenge

The Benadryl Challenge first made headlines in July when three Texas teens overdosed. They survived after being treated at a hospital in Fort Worth, but there are reports that at least one teen in Oklahoma died.

Experts blame boredom, peer pressure and thrill-seeking, but Lopez warns the medicine works so fast, it doesn’t take long to reach the danger point.

"Unfortunately, this is a drug that gets into the system fairly quickly," Lopez said, "and there's nothing, really, you could do at home, because if they start having irregular heartbeats, or they start having seizure activity, there's not much you can do" except wait for first responders to arrive."

Doctors say parents who see their child switch off suddenly, quickly becoming lethargic, drowsy, or incoherent, with some loss of motor skills, should beware - it might be from an overdose. 

The FDA is advising parents to lock up Benadryl and other medicines to avoid misuse by teens and accidental poisonings in younger children.

If someone takes too much diphenhydramine and is hallucinating, can’t be awakened, has a seizure, has trouble breathing or has collapsed, immediately get medical attention or contact poison control at 1-800-222-1222.

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