Don't follow everything you see on the internet

Published on Friday, November 16, 2018

By T.J. Mack
Spartanburg Regional Healthcare Center

The ice bucket challenge, the cinnamon challenge, the Tide Pod challenge, the fire challenge, the “In My Feelings” challenge … the list of internet fads goes on and on.

A quick internet search will give you access to scores of challenges. Each challenge is becoming more difficult than the one before and each one with the same goal in mind; for the person in the video to obtain viral fame.

Most are ridiculous and some are harmless and laughable. Others, however, can end with a hospital visit.

Today, emergency centers across the world are treating patients due to the injuries obtained in the attempt of viral fame.
Below are some of the more recent challenges and the risks involved:

Tide Pod challenge

Tide Pod – a pre-measured laundry detergent packet, designed to dissolve in water during the machine’s use.
Challenge – to place one of the brightly colored packets in your mouth until it dissolves. Once dissolved you either spit out or ingest the contents.

Risks – The contents of the packet are not made for human consumption and are considered extremely dangerous. If ingested, one may have difficulty breathing, burns to the mouth, esophagus, lining of the lungs and/or GI tract, or swelling of the airway.

This has a danger of blocking airways and choking. If we occlude (block/close off due to swelling or foreign material) our airway brain damage or death will occur within minutes.

 ‘In My Feelings’ challenge

“In My Feelings” song and dance – a song written by popular singer, song writer, record producer, actor and entrepreneur Drake. The song, “In My Feelings,” is written and performed by rap star Drake. The song is hot … and it got hotter when comedian Shiggy went viral with a dance he made up for it.

Challenge – Do the Shiggy dance to “In My Feelings” and post it to Instagram.

– The first videos were harmless, as movie and music stars posted their own videos. Then, people started getting out of their cars. Some of the most popular videos involve people exiting their moving vehicle while someone is recording, then doing the dance and hopping back in.

It should not be surprising to tell you these videos, many of which have gone viral, come with a price. Emergency centers are treating injuries due to these failed challenges (or widely successful, depending on your perception) are injuries sustained due to blunt force trauma or crush injuries.

Many of the people are either being struck by a vehicle in the opposite lane of traffic, are dancing into stationary objects, or they have been run over by their own vehicle.

When operating a moving vehicle, it is highly recommended that you wear a seat belt and stay behind the wheel of the vehicle. Never exit a moving vehicle, especially if you are the driver. This is for your safety, the safety of your passengers and the safety of the others on the roadways.

Fire challenge

– dowse yourself with flammable liquid, then ignite it (light yourself on fire)

Risks – It is disheartening to have to inform people of the risks of lighting oneself on fire.

Fire is extremely hot. When it comes in contact with the skin it quickly causes injuries. Injuries sustained may be dependent on the degree of burn, percent of body surface area burned, and location of burn.

Burns lead to electrolyte imbalances, cardiac arrhythmias, fluid loss, hypothermia (due to the body’s inability to thermoregulate – control your body temperature), and airway compromise. You have burns around the face or neck, swelling may lead to an obstructed airway. To put it simply, your throat closes due to the burns and your brain no longer receives oxygen, which leads to brain damage or death."

Choking Game challenge

Admittedly, this challenge has been around for some time. Some sources report it has been around "as long as kids have been curious."

Challenge – To temporarily self-induce asphyxiation, by means of wrapping something around your throat in an attempt to a"get high." Some attempt this by choking themselves with a rope, article of clothing, their own hands or the hands of a friend.

Risks – The risks here are brain damage and death. We need oxygen to survive. Without oxygen the cells of our brain, and other organs, begin to shut down and die. This entire challenge is based on intentionally blocking the airway. These patients have very grim outcomes.

These are only a few of the many challenges one may stumble across while surfing the net during their downtime or, as we see firsthand in our trauma bays, while driving … don’t do it.

I have a challenge for all you parents out there. I challenge you all to be an active part of your children's lives. Monitor their internet and cell phone usage and speak with them about the dangers and silliness of most of these challenges. I challenge you to not allow screens to be your children’s babysitter or sole social interactions.

Lastly, I challenge you to challenge them to use their brains. If they are bent on going viral, encourage them to find a way that makes a positive impact … not by setting themselves on fire, drinking poison or hanging themselves.

We know traumas are preventable, especially when it comes to injuries caused by failed attempts to become viral internet stars. Please don’t meet us by accident.

T.J. Mack, RN, BSN, is the trauma injury prevention and outreach coordinator for Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.



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