The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against cooking chicken in NyQuil after a social media challenge that encourages young viewers to try it went viral.

“One social media trend relying on peer pressure is online video clips of people misusing nonprescription medications and encouraging viewers to do so too,” the FDA wrote. “These video challenges, which often target youths, can harm people — and even cause death.”

The trend challenges people to cook chicken in NyQuil or similar over-the-counter cough and cold medications, according to the FDA. But, boiling certain medications can be harmful to breathe, let alone eat, the agency warned.

“Boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways,” the FDA wrote. “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.”

The notice included warnings about other dangerous social media trends, like one TikTok challenge that urged viewers to consume large doses of the allergy medication diphenhydramine, which is found in Benadryl and other over-the-counter products, in order to hallucinate.

The agency said the so-called “Benadryl Challenge” has resulted in the hospitalizations and deaths of young people.

In the warning, the FDA provided several suggestion for how parents could prevent their children from participating in these harmful social media challenges. For example, parents should keep over-the-counter and prescription drugs away from their kids or lock up the medications to prevent accidental overdoses, the FDA said. The agency also encouraged parents and guardians to have clear and open conversations with their children.

“Sit down with your children and discuss the dangers of misusing drugs and how social media trends can lead to real, sometimes irreversible, damage,” the FDA said. “Remind your children that overdoses can occur with OTC drugs as well as with prescription drugs.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics also advised parents to speak with their teens about which challenges are trending on social media or at school.

“Sometimes kids are more willing to talk about their peers than themselves. Asking questions about school trends, friends and fads may yield more answers than direct questions about their own activities,” the AAP said on its website. 

“No matter what, it is important to keep the lines of communication open and avoid passing judgment,” the academy added.

Teenagers and young people are most susceptible to dangerous social media challenges because their brains are not yet fully developed, AAP said.

“Social media rewards outrageous behavior, and the more outrageous, the bigger the bragging rights,” the academy stated. “It’s a quick moving, impulsive environment, and the fear of losing out is real for teens. That environment plays into a teen’s underdeveloped ability to think through their actions and possible consequences.”

When using over-the-counter medications it is always important to read the instructions and use them as intended, the FDA said. People should call their pharmacist or health care provider with questions they have regarding any drugs.

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