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The Dangers Of The Benadryl Tiktok Challenge

The Dangers Of The Benadryl Tiktok Challenge

Shuba Iyengar, MD, MPH
By Dr. Shuba Iyengar, MD, MPH Published on May 12, 2023
Table of Contents

    Benadryl, also referred to by the generic name of diphenhydramine, is a common allergy medication that many of us have in our cupboards.

    Unfortunately, there has been a recent trend on TikTok that all parents should be aware of. Termed a “Benadryl Challenge,” users are posting videos of themselves taking large doses of this medication to experience intense and often dangerous side effects including hallucinations.

    Taking too much Benadryl can result in serious adverse events, including a comatose state and possibly even death, due the powerful sedative effects of the medication. Benadryl can also potentially interact with other medications that a person might already be taking. There may be  additional risks if high doses of Benadryl are taken by individuals with pre-existing seizures, heart disease, or lung problems. 


    What is Benadryl typically used for, and aside from death, what is it doing to your body when taking an excessive amount?

    Benadryl, or diphenhydramine, is a household staple that helps treat common allergic symptoms like itchy eyes, nose, and skin as well as sneezing. It works by blocking the histamine receptors on allergy cells and can result in dangerous side-effects when taken in large doses.

    This main effects include:

    Drowsiness and sleepiness from its sedative effects, and, in extreme cases, a comatose state.

    Problems breathing because overdosing on Benadryl can slow down breathing rates to dangerously low levels. This can result in respiratory distress and possibly even cessation of breathing altogether.

    Seizures can also be triggered with large doses.

    What can a parent do if their child consumes excessive amounts of Benadryl?

    It is important for all parents to keep themselves educated on the resources they have available if they suspect that their child has consumed excessive amounts of Benadryl. They can call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 and seek immediate medical attention by taking their child to their nearest emergency department. Medical professionals will want information on the amount of Benadryl taken, how long ago it was taken, and what medical conditions and medications the child is taking currently.

    Treatment for Benadryl overdose typically involves monitoring the child’s condition and providing additional care if needed, like intravenous fluids or supplemental oxygen to support breathing. In cases of significant overdose, treatments can include stomach pumping or activated charcoal.

    Where should Benadryl be kept at home?

    Medications like Benadryl should be kept in a secure place out of the reach of children. A locked medicine cabinet or a shelf that is too high to reach for children are great options.


    Open lines of communication are key. As parents, it is important for us to talk to our children about the dangers of experimenting with any medication or drug, especially ones that are available over the counter. This can help our children make safe and informed decisions.