Man eats pepper, burns hole in esophagus

- Food challenges are popular all over social media, but one sent a Bay Area man to the hospital.

In a case study reported in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, an unidentified man participated in a ghost pepper challenge which resulted in a 2.5cm hole burned into his esophagus.

Ghost peppers, originally found in India, are known to be among the hottest peppers in the world.

The 47 year old challenger reportedly ate a hamburger with a ghost pepper puree. Despite drinking six glasses of water, he began to vomit and suffered severe chest and abdominal pain.

He went to the emergency room at UCSF where they gave him a “GI cocktail,” consisting of Maalox and lidocaine.

When that failed, doctors sent him into surgery where they found a case of rare spontaneous esophageal rupture or Boerhaave’s syndrome, which can be fatal if left untreated.

Thankfully, surgeons were able to repair the tear in his esophagus. The man stayed at the hospital for more than three weeks.

The Journal of Emergency Medicine says this case is a reminder to medical professionals that a case originally thought to be “discomfort after a large spicy meal” turned out be “potentially life threatening.”


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