Snorting Condoms And Other Really, Really Bad Ideas

By Jamie Wells, M.D. — Apr 02, 2018
The lure of page views and viral videos strikes again. A disturbing trend of snorting condoms finds good company with other misguided – and dangerous – fads. 
Credit: Pixabay

You may have heard about the latest internet fad captivating mostly teenagers and dismissed it as a myth. But, yes, apparently filming yourself while snorting an unwrapped condom up your nose and pulling it out through your mouth is a thing. Not necessarily a new thing, but one intended to be uploaded online so as to garner the most likes and page views.

Why? Because they can.

The dangers of doing so (e.g. risking life-threatening aspiration into the lungs, potential choking, irritating the sinuses and airway, promoting infection or allergic reaction) don’t seem to be deterring people from participating. The resurgence of the snorting condom challenge is like a recurring nightmare to doctors. One that is like a horror movie with endless sequels lacking any progression in the storyline. No character development. No improved outcomes. No epiphany of self-discovery.

Just new crops of willing participants.

To appreciate how foreign bodies can wreak havoc in the body, review my Inanimate Objects in Orifices series (eyes, ear/nose/throat, penis, vagina) and Animate Objects in Orifices: The Airway

I fear the next craze. Society is filled with people whose creativity has no bounds. Imagine the possibilities if they instead directed their energy toward more productive activities?!

These really bad ideas just keep coming

In recent months, a viral media storm centered around the Tide Pod Challenge where adolescents posted videos online of their deliberate ingestion of the colorful cleansers and their often violent reactions to its punctured contents.

The untoward effects of the poisonous components have resulted in death and serious injury often leading to hospitalization (e.g. loss of consciousness, coma, drowsiness, difficulty breathing requiring intubation, excessive vomiting). When the package ruptures and its contents make contact with the eye, severe irritation and even temporary vision loss have ensued due to ocular burns.

The manufacturer had to issue public warnings including enlisting celebrity backing to get their message across to the public. Even the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released memes and statements imploring people not to eat pods. See Accidental Or Intentional, Tide Pods Meant For Laundry Not Mouths.

Do not exclude the competitive eating of really, really, really hot peppers

In 2016, a video of two female teenagers went viral depicting their immediate reactions upon ingesting the Carolina Reaper (aka the world’s hottest pepper). Vomiting, pain and even an apparent asthma attack were precipitated. The internet was riddled with these types of stories.

Then came a case report published in The Journal of Emergency Medicine of a man’s esophageal rupture after ghost pepper ingestion. “The ghost pepper, or ‘bhut jolokia’ is one of the hottest chili peppers in the world, until it was supplanted by the Carolina Reaper. Ghost peppers have a measured ‘heat’ of >1,000,000 Scoville heat units (SHU), more than twice the strength of a habanero pepper.”

After consuming them in a contest, a 47-year-old man presented to the Emergency Room in severe abdominal and chest pain after violent retching and vomiting which triggered Boerhaave Syndrome, a barotrauma-inducing spontaneous esophageal rupture. See here for a more in-depth review of this case.

Remember the cinnamon challenge? Another in a long line of if it isn’t filmed and put on the internet, then it didn't happen.

This “challenge” involved ingesting a spoonful of cinnamon in under 60 seconds without the help of an accompanying beverage. Filming it of course, then uploading it online. Coughing fits, gagging, choking, vomiting abounded in these attempts. ACSH made a video about it and its hazards, see here.

The Take Home Message

Intentional, unintentional injuries pose a hefty burden on our health system - and, cause much suffering for those involved.

If you weren’t taken aback by the coaxial cable voluntary urethral insertion described here, then news out of China regarding the potentially fatal consequence of a man lodging a reported stainless-steel chopstick in his penis will be of minimal surprise. Nor will you find it a shock that my article Stuff Not To Do With Your Penis is among my ten most popular.

It is human nature to test boundaries. Ideally, in most circumstances, the calculated risks will prevail over the more ill-advised pursuits. Moving forward, let’s hope more sensible adventures become the next fad.  

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