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“Tide Pod Challenge, “ Another Dangerous Teen Stunt


Just when you think that maybe teens and young adults have come to their senses about trying crazy stunts, a new viral “challenge” emerges and lets you know how wrong you are.

This one challenges primarily teens and young adults to pop a Tide Pod into their mouths and bite down, and then post videos of whatever happens. Some of these individuals experience foaming at the mouth and severe coughing spells after consuming a pod. It’s no surprise to most of us that this bizarre act can be dangerous but many might not suspect that it can also be potentially deadly.

These pods contain concentrated levels of detergent made to dissolve while washing clothes. Because they are designed to dissolve when wet, the same thing can occur in a person’s mouth - leading to the immediate release and absorption of the contents.

Tide Pods contain dangerous chemicals that, if ingested, can lead to life threatening breathing problems, damage to the esophagus from the corrosive ingredients, burns, blood pressure changes, gastrointestinal problems and neurological symptoms, including loss of consciousness. They can bring on a severe asthma attack in those that have asthma already.

The pods contain numerous chemicals that are potentially harmful if ingested. Chief among these concerns is a chemical known as 1,4 Dioxane.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to this compound can cause eye and nose irritation, kidney problems and possible long-term lung damage. These effects are unlikely to occur if the product is used appropriately.

Through various social media forums, this stunt continues to grow in popularity. It might be wise to have a talk with your child about the very real dangers of ingesting a toxic product such as a detergent pod. While you might think your child would never do such a thing, many parents have found themselves in an ER with their child who thought it might be a fun thing to try. On their own, most kids wouldn’t even think to try something like this, but once a video challenge goes viral, kids are more likely to see it as funny – not dangerous.

Have that talk.

Story source: Sarang Koushik M.D.,

Daily Dose

Teen Suicide is Real

1.30 to read

I love ‘Glee’, but I just watched the latest episode and I was really surprised, appalled, and disturbed by the scene where a bullied, depressed teen was shown trying to hang himself. What in the world?  I even had to rewind it to make sure I was correct in what I had seen? I found myself sitting through the commercial break trying to decide if I could even watch the rest of the program. 

I did stay tuned and I must admit that I am glad that I did. I am just concerned about some of the teen viewers who may not have watched what happened next. 

Thankfully, Karofsky, did not successfully commit suicide, but he did end up in the hospital. Why did he feel so desperate? What could lead a teenager to feel so sad, defeated and ALONE, that they would attempt to kill themselves?  In this case, the character was “outed” about his sexuality (I think on Facebook). He was then taunted by the entire football team and chased from the locker room, which led to his attempted suicide. 

This story line touched too close to some real situations I have had with my own patients. I have been the pediatrician for patients who have killed themselves.  Their parents and friends will never understand what could have driven them to such a decision, nor will I. 

I do know that suicide cannot be hidden and that there needs to be open discussions between adults and teens about suicide   While the ‘Glee’ episode did that, I think it was unnecessary to show this young man preparing to hang himself.     

The teachers and students on ‘Glee’ all openly discussed the attempted suicide.  Mr. Shue even gathered the Glee club to talk about his own teen years and how he had at one time thought about killing himself.  

He then had the students in glee club talk about something 10 years in the future that they were looking forward to.  This helped each of them to realize while their problems might seem insurmountable for the moment, that was never the case. There was so much to live for in the future. 

It was really interesting that in the next several days in my office more than a few adolescents and their parents also brought up the ‘Glee’ episode. Many of them were equally disturbed and concerned about the vivid depiction of an adolescent trying to end their own life.  Several had talked about turning it off, but the show did lead to conversations with their own families and friends.  I guess that the “shock factor” may be a conversation starter. 

Lastly, the ending of ‘Glee’ was also shocking.....maybe too much to discuss in one show. Suicide and texting while driving may have been better tackled in separate episodes? 

What do you think? I would love to hear from you!

Daily Dose

Demi Lovato: Why Teens Cut Themselves

Teen star Demi Lovato checked herself into rehab for emotional issues. Dr. Sue explains why some teens cut themselves.I am a regular morning news show watcher and have been following the story about Demi Lovato entering a treatment center to deal with her “emotional and physical health issues”.   Recently, I had a chance to read Ms. Lovato's story in People magazine. She sets the record straight: she's been dealing with an eating disorder and has a history of cutting herself.

I commend her for facing the fact that she has problems that require professional treatment, and for getting help sooner than later. I have seen many adolescents who have a history of cutting. When I first saw these young girls, I was totally baffled as to what in the world was going on with their behavior.  I often would find telltale signs of cutting during a physical exam, as most of these adolescents try to hide their cutting. But as I continued to practice and talked to these adolescent girls I began to realize that their cutting themselves was a form of self-mutilation.  Many of these girls stated that they “used physical pain as a coping mechanism for emotional pain”.  Other girls have told me that they “felt numb” and that the pain of cutting allowed them to feel real emotions. In either case the cutting behavior causes a release of chemicals and endorphins in the body that provide a sense of well being or euphoria for a short time after the cutting has occurred. But as one doctor stated, “cutting is a SICK way of coping”. Studies show that somewhere between 14-17% of high school and college students have admitted to cutting themselves, and it is much more prevalent among adolescent girls than boys. There is also data to support the belief that those who self mutilate often have a past history of trauma or abuse, which may include a history of being bullied.   There has been speculation as to whether bullying played a role in Demi Lovato’s issues.  As we know bullying has become more and more prevalent and is now also a concern on the internet where bullying has become an epidemic. Cutting like many other emotional based behaviors also seems to have an addictive quality, and many of the adolescents that I see have concomitant issues such as an eating disorder, with either anorexia or bulimia.   The deep emotional issues surrounding these disorders are quite confusing and seem counter-intuitive to most of us. Some adolescents have stated to me that their own life is so “out of control” that they can only assume some control of their lives by restricting what they eat, or by controlling what they “feel” through cutting.  These are both self destructive behaviors that need to be dealt with by well trained professionals. These are difficult disorders to treat and usually take a team of professionals. With Demi Lovato being the latest child/teen star to acknowledge that she has issues that she needs to deal with, one can hope that there will be other teen fans who may have been self-mutilating and will now come forward to seek help from their own parents and physicians. Being a child/teen movie star may not be as glamorous as we onlookers think, but having the good sense to get help makes her even a bigger star to me! That's your daily dose for today.  We'll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue.

Daily Dose

Guns on College Campuses

A new Texas bill is before the legislature which would allow college students to carry a handgun. Good or bad idea? I’m not sure how many of you have heard about a bill now being considered in the Texas Legislature?  The bill would allow students to carry a concealed handgun on campus and remove “premises of higher education” as gun-free zones. I must say, what is the sponsor of this bill thinking?  Senator Jeff Wentworth who is sponsoring the bill states, “I just don’t want to see a repeat in Texas of what happened at Virginia Tech”.

I am more concerned about MORE violence, rather than less, if students are allowed to bring handguns to campus.  It is almost like a return to the “wild west” rather than to the reality of having campuses with as many as 50,000 “young adults” who will not be allowed to bring guns to class. I not only care for many young adults of this age group, but also have a college student myself. As a parent and pediatrician I think that this bill may lead to more violence and arbitrary shootings than we have unfortunately already seen. Just last year, a University of Texas-Austin student carrying an AK-47 assault weapon ran across campus shooting in the air before running into a building and taking his own life.  The UT campus police responded swiftly and quickly secured the campus. The University of Texas used email and other social media to notify all students to remain in their dorms or in their classrooms. What if there had been many gun wielding students who responded to the situation with their own guns, how would the police even know who was “the good guy” vs. the “bad guy”.  It would seem to me that we need to allow the trained police and campus security as well as administrators to handle these situations, rather than gun-wielding students.  There doesn’t seem to be a good reason to allow students to carry a handgun. Maybe a professor or another person of authority, that might be another conversation. After asking a few students myself, the overall consensus was that they, the students, opposed the bill. This seemed to be true even among those who were hunters. They had many concerns about having their peers armed with handguns. They are well aware of the many stressors on a college campus. Having a handgun “handy” might lead to impulsive shootings when a verbal exchange or even fist fight had been the previous means of resolving an argument.   The mental health of college students is one of the biggest concerns on every college campus these days.  A vast proportion of money allocated for “health care” in college is spent on mental health issues as educators become more aware of the frequency of these issues. As colleges deal with students with depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug issues, addictions and anger management, the idea of allowing handguns on any college campus seems to be unnecessary and actually scary. I realize that there are strict rules for obtaining a handgun license, just as there are for getting a driver’s license. Despite the laws for obtaining a driver’s license we continue to see this same age group have high vehicular accident rates. They make impulsive decisions and drink and drive, or don’t wear a seat belt, or use drugs and get behind the wheel of the car. The same might hold true for handgun possession, when alcohol, drugs and sleeplessness impair judgment.  Even the thought of a handgun going off accidently could cause harm to the innocent classmates. I agree with Senator Wentworth, I do not want to see another tragic shooting on any school premises. But to think that arming students with concealed hand guns for protection seems like a preposterous means of protecting our schools. More security, YES, more counseling and mental health awareness, YES, detailed plans to handle a shooting or hostage situation, YES   but guns on a college campus….. I vote NO! What do you think? Do you think college students hould be alowed to carry a gun on campus? I would love your feedback.

Daily Dose

When Can You Leave Your Child Home Alone?

When can you leave your child home alone?I recently went on a summer vacation and left our “adult/college” son at home for a week as he was working.  I must admit that he is working very long hours, so he really does not spend much time at the house.

My husband and I did leave a “short list” of “things to do while we are gone”.  The list included such essentials as feed the dog, water the plants, turn off lights when you are not at home, you get the idea. We were not concerned about him “burning down the kitchen” as we knew he would be either eating at work or picking up something on his way home. He was also going to be away for a long weekend while we were gone, so it really meant about 4 days of “housekeeping” chores. Upon our return late one night, we entered the house to find the dog roaming around, several of her toys had been chewed up and were all over the floor (why would one pick up the mess?). All of the lights were on downstairs, which helped to illuminate my garden with what appeared to by “dying” tomatoes and plants in the background. There were old newspapers and mail thrown into the corner of the entry hall, and the “children” had lovingly hung a new family picture, but had just laid the old picture on the floor. The following  morning, I went to go to work and my car must have “been borrowed” and food had been left in the cup holder which was swarming with ants!  While also trying to deal with ant infestation, I noticed that my car tank was empty too! I am sure working son used every car available and as each one got low on gas, he used the next car. (Much easier than stopping to fill up his car!) So, this begs the question “at what age can you leave your child home alone?”  In most cases this means when is a child old enough to stay home while a parent may run to the store, or drive a carpool for a sibling? I think that most children are ready to be left alone for an hour or so once they are somewhere  between the ages of 9–11. As we know, children are all different, and there are certainly very mature 8 year olds who might be able to “run” the house for the day, and some 12 year olds that you wouldn’t dream of leaving alone. This is just a guideline. When beginning to let your child stay alone, start with small increments and review responsibilities (hmmm…..sounds easier than it is sometimes), such as not answering the door, or not cooking, and not leaving the house etc. Also review how to call the parental cell phones, neighbors and 911 if needed. I would type up a sheet and leave it posted. As your child becomes comfortable with you being gone for 30 min to an hour you can lengthen the time that you are gone and check in with them occasionally. This age group loves getting the nod that they are “growing up” and can be alone for a time. This is an important developmental milestone that not only develops maturity but also autonomy while building confidence in your child.  When you return review with them how things went, discuss any issues that might have arisen and praise them for following directions. Many tweens and teens are then ready to start babysitting for other families, but need to have learned how to stay alone for an evening by themselves before they are made responsible for other children. I would also recommend that they take a “babysitting course” either through the YMCA, and Girl Scouts or Boys Scouts, that prepares them for this responsibility and also has CPR instruction included. Babysitting is not only a good way for this age group to earn some of their own spending money, but it also teaches them how difficult it is to be a good parent and role model and hopefully shows teens that they are not ready to be a parent. (I think it is a good birth control/abstinence lesson). I guess I still have some teaching to do in our own home, but the tomatoes seem to have been rescued, the papers are all recycled, the car is exterminated and our son is just fine!  According to him, it went perfectly! That's your daily dose for today.  We'll chat again tomorrow. Send your question to Dr. Sue!

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