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Viral Sensation or Abomination?

“Sleepy Chicken,” never heard of it? Neither had I until the other evening, when I saw several news reports of it being the latest TikTok trend. The FDA has issued a warning against this “viral sensation” of cooking chicken in NyQuil.

This is not fiction. It is such a ridiculous thing to do that my brain couldn’t have conjured it up even if I was in a delirious state coming out of general anesthesia. It does bring to mind an important point, though. Medication needs to be stored and used according to instructions, which include maintaining proper temperature. Not doing so can cause serious problems.

Alameda Post - an outdoor thermometer on a tree trunk

“Sleepy chicken” puts medicine at unsafe temperatures

“The risks are great if any medication is compromised by exposure to temperatures beyond its safe range,” a Pharmacy Times article warned. “The loss of efficacy can result in many issues compromising the health of the patient. With some medications, the stakes are even higher. If epinephrine, for example, is exposed to repetitive heating and cooling, it can lose 64 percent of its efficacy. If a compromised dose of epinephrine is used to treat a patient suffering from a serious anaphylactic reaction, it may not work as intended, resulting in possible death.”

Alameda Post - a medicine cabinet. Will teens try sleepy chicken if they find the nyquil?

Not that I’m expecting any of you to cook tonight’s meal in over-the-counter pink medication to cut down on (cue music) nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, dia—okay, you know where I was going with that. I know you would not do that, but less intentional actions could affect your medication as well. For instance, may I suggest that if you are running errands and one of them is picking up medication from the pharmacy that should be kept refrigerated, let that be the last errand on your list? Inconvenient? Plan ahead and carry a small cooler with an ice pack.

Even medication that doesn’t require refrigeration requires special attention to temperature. Most over-the-counter medications are shelf stable and intended to ideally be kept in “controlled room temperature” which, according to the United States Pharmacopeia standard, is between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Your medication could likely become compromised in temperatures exceeding 86 degrees.

Compromised how? There is potential decomposition resulting in lower potency but also possibly resulting in other effects. If your medication’s recommended temperature has been compromised, consult with your doctor or pharmacist as to whether it should be disposed of and replaced.

Proper medicine storage tips

Here are additional tips on maintaining the efficacy of your meds. Do not store medication in your car for lengthy periods of time, especially in hot weather. It’s best to not put your medication in the trunk of your car when transporting. When traveling, do not pack your meds in your checked in luggage as they may sit on the hot tarmac for extended periods waiting to be loaded onto the plane. Even the holding areas of the airport or the belly of the plane could get extremely hot. This also holds true when traveling by bus. For ease through security, it is best to keep medication in its original containers and keep the containers together.

Social media gives life to the absurd and often dangerous. Remember when people were taking up time and space in the emergency rooms due to ingesting Tide pods? My older son, who is a teen, said, “These stupid trends make Americans look like idiots.”

Score one for my boy.

Contributing writer Denise Lum is a Health and Fitness Coach raising her family in Alameda. Contact her via [email protected] or Her writing is collected at

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