According to a recently published medical report, a 47-year-old American man who ate a spicy burger smothered in Ghost Pepper puree ended up with a large hole in his esophagus.
The report published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine mentions that the unnamed man ate ‘ghost peppers’, also known as Bhut jolokia, in pure form, smothered on top of a burger, part of an eating contest. Soon after finishing the scorching spicy hot meal, he began to experience violent retching and vomiting, as well as severe abdominal and chest pain. As these symptoms kept getting worse, the man called emergency responders, who took him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with Boerhaave syndrome, or spontaneous esophageal rupture.
An abdomen and pelvic scan revealed a build up of air, fluid and food inside the man’s body, so doctors decided to perform emergency surgery. They discovered a 2.5cm tear in the left side of his throat and had to insert a tube into the rupture to aid his breathing. The tube remained in place for two weeks, while the man’s wound healed. He ended up spending another nine days in the hospital, before being discharged with a feeding tube in place.
Boerhaave syndrome is fatal in most cases, as the condition has very few typical symptoms and doctors have a difficult time diagnosing it before it’s too late. Patients usually sucumb to fatal shocks or sepsis. The 47-year-old man should therefore consider himself lucky to be alive.
The authors of the article mention that normally, ghost peppers cause “no significant adverse effects”, but note that “this case serves as an important reminder of a potentially life- threatening surgical emergency initially interpreted as discomfort after a large spicy meal.”
It’s not clear what exactly caused the man’s esophagus to rupture, whether it was the inflammation, the excessive retching, or a combination of both.
Bhut jolokia peppers have a spiciness rating of one million units on the Scoville scale. To put that into perspective, Tabasco has a rating of 100 units, while the common Jalapeno reaches a maximum of 3,500 units. It’s not the world’s hottest chili pepper, though. That title belongs to the Carolina Reaper, with a Scoville rating of 2.2 million units.
via FOX News