Doctor warns parents after Ohio boy dies participating in TikTok challenge

A 13-year-old Ohio boy is dead after participating in one of the latest TikTok challenges that involves a common medication found in many peoples’ homes. It’s c
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 3:20 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A 13-year-old Ohio boy is dead after participating in a TikTok challenge that involves a common medication found in many peoples’ homes.

It’s called the ‘Benadryl Challenge.’

The parents of 13-year-old Jacob Stevens says he died after he took between 12 and 14 Benadryl pills. He spent nearly a week on the ventilator prior to his death. According to CBS News, people are doing the challenge in order to have hallucinations.

“That amount of Benadryl would not have been safe for an adult let alone a 13-year-old who’s likely smaller in size and weight,” said Dr. Lee Dossett, chief medical officer at Baptist Health Lexington. “That’s why it’s so important to follow the directions and the age-specific directions.”

Dr. Dossett says the antihistamine is most commonly used to treat seasonal allergies. People also use it to help them sleep because of its slight sedative effect. He says it’s perfectly safe, except in excess.

“It can affect your heart rhythm. It goes to the central nervous system, so it can cause seizures and comas and sedation,” said Dr. Dossett.

Following the incident, a statement was posted on Benadryl’s website. It reads in part, “The challenge, which involves ingestion of excessive quantities of diphenhydramine, is a dangerous trend and should be stopped immediately.”

Dr. Dossett says Benadryl is certainly not the only over-the-counter drug people should be cautious of though. He says drugs like Tylenol, Advil and cold medicines also have specific directions that must be followed.

“Those are put there for a reason. Taking multiple pills or a combination of things is very unsafe,” said Dr. Dossett

His advice is for parents to “be aware of what they have in their house, how it’s stored and really try to supervise their kids and what they’re being exposed to on the internet and social media.”

Dr. Dossett says parents should store medications on a high shelf that kids can’t reach and, when possible, use child-proof caps and storage.