Imagine uncoiling a condom and stuffing it up one side of your nose, then plugging the other nostril and inhaling until the long piece of latex slides into your throat. Then what? You reach back and pull it from your mouth.
Why would someone do that?
Apparently for the same reason young people have dared each other to pour salt in their hands and hold ice until it burns, douse themselves in rubbing alcohol and set themselves on fire, or bite into colorful liquid laundry detergent packets.
It’s a game called the “condom-snorting challenge” and, not unlike other dangerous dares that have swept social media, teenagers have been doing it — for years now.
“There are all kinds of drugs, and kids are clever, so it’s just really: What are our kids doing? So, that’s what we try to share,” Stephen Enriquez, a state education specialist in San Antonio, told Fox affiliate KABB. He visited a school to warn parents and teachers not only about drugs and alcohol but also about these social media challenges, according to the station.
“Because these days our teens are doing everything for likes, views and subscribers,” Enriquez added. “As graphic as it is, we have to show parents because teens are going online looking for challenges and re-creating them.”
Bruce Lee, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote late last week in a column for Forbes that the only thing people should be snorting is air, with the exception of nasal spray or doctor-prescribed medications.
“The condom could easily get stuck in your nose or your throat, blocking your breathing or causing you to choke,” he wrote.
Lee pointed to two medical case studies involving condom mishaps. A report published in 2004 in the Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences detailed an “accidental condom inhalation” in which a 27-year-old woman unintentionally sucked a condom down her throat and into her lungs during oral sex. It led to pneumonia and caused the right upper lobe of her lung to collapse.
In another case, outlined in the Journal of Medical Case Reports, a 26-year-old woman inadvertently swallowed a condom and a piece of it traveled to her appendix. It resulted in appendicitis, a condition which is typically caused when a blockage in the appendix’s lining leads to infection, causing the organ to swell, according to the Mayo Clinic. When not promptly and properly treated, the appendix can rupture.
The key difference is that these two cases were accidents.
“Even if you manage to successfully pull the condom out through your mouth, inhaling a condom up your nose would be very uncomfortable and potentially quite painful,” Lee wrote. “Would it really be worth all that just to get more likes and views?”
For some, yes. That’s why health experts are warning parents about such social media challenges.
Earlier this year, a game called the “Tide pod challenge” raised concerns as videos circulated on social media showing teenagers biting into the detergent packets, or pretending to cook them in skillets then chewing them up and spewing soap from their mouths.
“A lot of people were just saying how stupid I was or how — why would I be willing to do that?” 19-year-old Marc Pagan, who said he was dared to do it, told CBS News at the time. “No one should be putting anything like that in their mouths, you know?”
Unlike dangerous decisions in which the intent is to get high, these social media challenges are considered games that are designed to get attention online.
The idea of threading a condom through your nose and pulling it from your mouth is not new.
The condom-snorting challenge, which dates to at least 2007, gained increased attention in 2013 when a YouTube video circulated online showing a young woman sucking a condom up her nose to Taylor Swift’s “22,” ABC News reported at the time. The video has since been removed, but there are still dozens of others showing teenagers accepting the challenge.
But over the past five years, U.S. poison control centers have received only one report of a condom inhalation. In 2014, a teenager intentionally inhaled the prophylactic, according to data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Most of the 152 incidents involving condoms — 107 cases, to be exact — were related to ingestion, according to the statistics.
Although it’s unclear why news of the condom-snorting challenge has resurfaced, it appears to be related to the recent warnings about these types of games.
To report an incident involving poisoning, call the national hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or text POISON to 797979 to save the number on your phone.