It may sound like a "Mad Libs" version of a '90s after-school special, but it is actually happening: Teenagers are snorting condoms on the internet. It's called, of course, the condom challenge.
What is the condom challenge?
The latest viral Stupid Human Trick has taken the place of the "Tide Pod Challenge" as the thing to do when you want to possibly die on YouTube. Teens are circulating videos on social media in which they insert a condom in one nostril, inhale it, and extract it through the mouth.
"These days our teens are doing everything for likes, views, and subscribers," said Texas teacher Stephen Enriquez, who told a local TV station he has begun to add warnings about condom-snorting to his alcohol-and-drug-prevention tips for parents. "As graphic as it is, we have to show parents because teens are going online looking for challenges and recreating them."
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Condom snorting as a social-media gag has been around for years. Ditto the Tide Pod Challenge, in which teens filmed themselves consuming the colorful plastic sachets of detergent. That led to a rash of poisonings, with 142 reported by poison-control centers in January alone.
Dangers of the condom challenge
The inhalation of condoms has its own risks, says Bruce Y. Lee, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a "Forbes" piece titled "Why You Should Not Inhale Condoms." Lee says only prescribed nasal sprays should enter your nostrils. "Anything else that goes up your nose can damage the sensitive inner lining of your nose, cause an allergic reaction, or result in an infection." A misdirected prophylactic "could easily get stuck in your nose or your throat, blocking your breathing or causing you to choke," he adds.
There are actually cases of "accidental condom inhalation" in the medical literature. Doctors in India reported on the 2004 case of a woman who developed pneumonia over a six-month period and didn't respond to antibiotics. They discovered that an oral-sex mishap caused her to inhale a condom into her lung, which led to its partial collapse.