What Is ‘Tide Pod Challenge’? Latest Social Media Craze Has Doctors Worried

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After the “Mannequin challenge” and “Invisible Box challenge,” a new kind of stunt is all the craze in social media at the moment — the “Tide Pod Challenge,” except the challenge is highly dangerous and can get you hospitalized.

In the challenge, teenagers are seen stuffing their mouth with detergent pods, biting into it or even cooking with it. An alarming number of teens are uploading videos of themselves trying out this challenge, despite the fact that Tide and other laundry detergents are highly toxic are not mean to be consumed.

But where did the Tide Pod Challenge get its origin from? It all started back in 2015 when The Onion published column which was written from a perspective of a child wondering what it would be like to eat the red and blue-colored detergent Tide pods, which looked like candies.

This was followed by a video posted by College Humor’s titled “Don’t Eat The Laundry Pods,” in March 2017 where a college student swallowed a bunch of detergent pods and at the end declared that he felt fine.

The video spurred discussions and dares on public forums like Twitter and Reddit with teenagers coming up with novel ideas to ingest detergent pods. Soon enough, the ideas turned into reality, giving birth to one of the social media’s deadliest trends in the recent times.

Health risks posed by detergent packets were brought into the limelight in 2012 when the American Association of Poison Control Centers warned against keeping laundry pods within the reach of children aged five years or younger.

“In 2012, AAPCC and the toxicology experts at the nation’s fifty-five poison centers highlighted the dangers of Laundry Packets, especially to children five years old and younger,” the organization said in a statement. “In 2012, Poison Centers received over 6,000 Laundry Packet exposure calls related to children five and under. That number rose to over 10,000 in 2013 and close to 12,000 in 2014.”

The figure rose to more than 12,000 in 2015 — the highest in the last five years — according to a graph posted by AAPCC. Last year, the organization got reports of 10,570 exposures to highly concentrated packets of laundry detergent by children.

“Exposures to Laundry Packets, which are encased in a water-soluble membrane that can burst open, are typically highly concentrated compared to traditional laundry detergent and thus can have significantly more serious effects,” AAPCC’s statement warns.

Among the symptoms shown by children who have accidentally swallowed detergent in the past is excessive vomiting, wheezing and gasping, sleepiness, breathing issues, as well as corneal abrasions if the detergent ends up entering their eyes.

This led the Tide pods to be referred to as the “forbidden fruit,” which only served to increase people’s curiosity in them and the desire to try out the challenge themselves.

“They don’t always have the comprehension at 13, 14, or 15 years old of lifelong consequences,” said Dr. Karen Jenkins, medical director of the Piedmont Medical Center emergency department, NBC affiliated WCNC reported. “It’s toxic soap chemicals that these teenage children are putting into their mouths. These are people who are going out and actively going to look for them to ingest them. I cannot believe that people are doing this.”

Dr. Alfred Aleguas Jr., managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, said that people might be unaware of the fact that they have underlying health issues and after trying out a stunt like this, they might have to be rushed to the hospital. “Ending up in the emergency room is no joke,” he said, USA Today reported.

Tide issued a statement following news of the highly dangerous challenge sweeping the internet: “Our laundry packs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes … They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if meant as a joke.”

If an individual happens to swallow their product, the company has issued an advice asking the concerned individual to immediately drink a glass of milk and call 1-800-222-1222 or text POISON to 797979.

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