When your kids go digging into the spice drawer, don't expect any great culinary creation. They may be looking for the cinnamon, which they want to attempt to swallow, without water.
Spitting, gagging, coughing -- and often vomiting -- follows.
Ah, the fun and games of youth. It's the "cinnamon challenge," an old dare game that's resurfaced in popularity and gone viral thanks to YouTube videos showing people of all ages attempting it. One of the most popular is by GloZell, a woman with huge hoop earrings, who slurps the cinnamon from a soup ladle and has a theatrical coughing reaction. It has been viewed more than 9.8 million times.
That's the video my kids were inspired by. Recently, along with friends, they attempted their own challenge on our back deck. There was much laughing and joking, until my 9-year-old son had a reaction that involved violent coughing, a blood-curdling scream, choking sounds, and tears. At that point the kids decided the challenge really wasn't that funny anymore.
In fact the cinnamon challenge is being banned from schools and has some doctors and poison control experts saying that, while it's meant to be in good fun, there is potential danger.
Dr. Russell Migita, Clinical Director of Emergency Services at Seattle Children's Hospital, says that while he hasn't treated anyone with problems related to cinnamon ingestion, the practice could easily cause lung problems.
"Any fine powder, if inhaled, can cause irritation to the lungs," Migita says. "Cinnamon is a pretty drying agent and has some heat to it. Anyone who gets that kind of powder in their lungs, it doesn't feel good."
The extreme coughing most people experience can be a harmful side effect, says Migita who has watched cinnamon challenge YouTube videos.
"People who cough that hard can have problems that can range from collapsing a lung to having lungs that get really inflamed, or pulmonary edema," Migita says.
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