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A series of viral videos dubbed the "Cinnamon Challenge" has inspired countless copycats, sending teenagers to the hospital and prompting warnings from school and health officials nationwide.
"We're quite worried this is the new fad for kids," an emergency-room doctor told Denver's KDVR-TV.
In the "Cinnamon Challenge," participants are dared to swallow a heaping spoonful of cinnamon in one minute, without drinking anything to help the spice go down, KDVR reports.
But because a person can't produce enough saliva to absorb the cinnamon, the "Challenge" inevitably results in severe dry-coughing spells -- or worse.
Several teenagers have recently sought treatment at hospitals after attempting the "Cinnamon Challenge," according to news reports around the country.
One teenager in Michigan couldn't breathe and lost consciousness after ingesting cinnamon in a "Challenge" attempt, Detroit's WXYZ-TV reports. The girl's right lung collapsed, and she got an infection, her father said.
The principal at the girl's high school sent parents a warning about the "Cinnamon Challenge." It can lead to "coughing, choking, vomiting and hypoxia," along with pneumonia, the principal's warning said.
Cinnamon can also trigger asthmatic reactions, and lead to suffocation, the New York Daily News reports.
Despite the warnings, more than 33,000 YouTube videos show a cross-section of Internet users attempting the "Cinnamon Challenge," according to the Daily News. One clip, boasting more than 10 million views, shows a woman swallowing a heaping soup ladle of the spice, with predictable consequences:
The "Cinnamon Challenge" may be hilarious to some. But health experts warn it's no laughing matter -- especially for people who suffer from seizures or respiratory ailments.