Node Smith, ND
Social media challenges have become very popular for young people, who use them to enhance their social media presence with more “likes” and views. The challenges are sometimes dangerous “dares” that are really bad ideas that can, and do, cause serious health problems. Two of these are condom snorting and the Tide pod challenge. Teens may find these dares and challenges funny, and popular media culture may use them in entertainment for a laugh, but they are becoming a growing concern. Just as alcohol or drug use is considered and screened for in adolescent populations, involvement with these sorts of social media challenges may be important to discuss with teens.
Condom snorting is when a person unrolls an unused condom and inhales it through the nostril into the throat and hawks it out of their mouth. Apparently, this is a dare that teens are being lured into. It has been popularized by social media for some time now, and first came about in 2007, but sensationalized in 2013 when a young woman did it in a YouTube video. The original video has been taken down, but there are tons of videos still on YouTube of kids doing this.
Snorting anything foreign into the nose is just plain dangerous
The danger of snorting anything foreign into the nose is that it could become stuck in the airway and cause asphyxiation, choking, or infection. In fact, there is at least one case in which a woman inhaled a condom during oral sex which led to pneumonia and subsequent lung collapse.1 Ingestion of latex materials (such as a condom) is also a concern, since latex is not digestible, a condom could become a problem somewhere along the digestive tract, as it was in a 26-year-old woman in 2016, who swallowed a condom and part of it became stuck in her appendix which led to an appendicitis.2
Tide Pod Challenge
The Tide pod challenge doesn’t need a ton of elaboration on its potential danger, once it is explained. This challenge entails swallowing a Tide pod – the plastic pods of concentrated laundry detergent that are coated in plastic. The idea of eating a laundry detergent pod is very foolish. These can be deadly if ingested and since the introduction of these pods in 2012 there have been many instances reported by poison control centers of children accidentally eating them – they look like candy to a certain degree. In January 2018, it became a social media meme and challenge, which may have begun as a joke, but has since turned into a serious health threat for some teens who may not understand the permanent and life threatening effects of ingesting such a toxic substance.
- Arya CL, Gupta R, Arora VK. Accidental condom inhalation. Indian J Chest Dis Allied Sci. 2004;46(1):55-8.
- Sama CB, Aminde LN, Njim TN, Angwafo FF. Foreign body in the appendix presenting as acute appendicitis: a case report. J Med Case Rep. 2016;10(1):129.
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.