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FDA Warns Against Deadly “NyQuil Chicken Challenge” on Social Media

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has drawn the world’s attention to an ongoing social media challenge dubbed “NyQuil Challenge,” where a bunch of social media users are posting videos of themselves coating and cooking chicken and other poultry with NyQuil. 

NyQuil is an over-the-counter medication for treating allergies and flu symptoms. The product is a mixture of several drugs, including paracetamol (acetaminophen), doxylamine succinate, and dextromethorphan.

The FDA warns that following the online instructions could lead to adverse health effects, not only as a result of eating the NyQuil-laced chicken, but due to changes that occur during cooking. 

According to FDA experts, cooking any drug, including NyQuil, raises the concentration of its active ingredients and alters its properties. Vapors from the cooking can cause inhalation of excessive doses that the human body may not be able to metabolize safely. and could lead to lung injury and respiratory failure.

Videos have surfaced online for years, with many naive people, including teenagers, participating in the potentially dangerous exercise. In the videos, social media users are seen pouring a large quantity of NyQuil onto fry pans, coating and submerging their chicken.

The FDA attributes this prescription misuse to peer pressure, where some people abusing medications influence their viewers to do the same.

Regulators report that an overdose of NyQuil can cause severe symptoms, including seizures, and injuries to the liver and lungs that can cause difficulty breathing, and even respiratory failure.

The FDA warns that NyQuil liquid medication has a lot of water. When cooked, the water evaporates, making the product more  concentrated. One doesn’t have to consume the chicken; inhaling the vapors is enough to hurt someone.

The FDA confirmed NyQuil contains paracetamol, the leading cause of acute liver injury. By consuming “NyQuil chicken,” liver function can be compromised. Doxylamine, another ingredient of NyQuil, can lead to disorientation, slow heartbeat, and drowsiness.

NyQuil also contains dextromethorphan, which can lead to nausea, irregular heartbeat, coma, and dizziness. Phenylephrine, a component of some NyQuil, can increase blood pressure and can cause adverse cardiovascular outcomes in people with hypertension and diabetes mellitus.

Also important to emphasize again – vaporizing could increase its absorption compared to its usual absorption when taken orally.

The FDA didn’t mention a case of anyone who has visited a hospital emergency department for consuming NyQuil chicken. The agency did, however, mention a previous social media TikTok challenge encouraging people to take large quantities of the anti-allergy drug Benadryl to provoke hallucinations. This led to several teens visiting accident and emergency departments across the US.

The NyQuil Chicken Challenge has been around since 2017. 

You can get sick from eating or inhaling chicken shown in the NyQuil Challenge. According to Andrew North, a pharmacological specialist, drugs should be taken as directed. Altering them by cooking raises toxicity and poisoning concerns.

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