Last year, during a local contest, a Californian man ate a hamburger topped with pureed ghost pepper. Several pints of water later, he started retching and vomiting, ending up in the hospital with a collapsed lung and an inch-wide esophageal rupture. Luckily, he survived and is now unwilling to try another hot chili pepper.
Ghost peppers are rated over one million on the Scoville hotness scale. By comparison, a jalapeño has only 5,000 Scoville units and a poblano pepper only scores 2,000 units. According to experts, if an individual ingests just a seed of a ghost pepper he or she can suffer from severe mouth burns that can last over half an hour.
However, the 47 years old Californian did not just eat a couple of seeds, the man accepted a local bar challenge in which he had to eat a burger topped with a whole pureed ghost pepper.
After finishing his spicy meal, the man drank six glasses of water, hoping that it could ease the burning sensation. Unfortunately, after the sixth drink, he began to retch violently and then started vomiting. He could not stop his urge to retch and vomit, so he was taken to a San Francisco emergency room where he was also treated for severe stomach and chest pain.
The CT scan showed that the anonymous Californian also had a sizeable tear in his esophagus and a collapsed lung. After an emergency surgical intervention, the man’s esophagus was repaired, and his lung was re-inflated.
According to the paper published this September in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, the spontaneous esophageal rupture, also known as the Boerhaave syndrome, is a rare phenomenon.
Dr. Ann Arens, the lead author of the study, declared that the rupture was not a direct effect of the ghost pepper, but rather of the man’s violent retching and unstoppable vomiting. The collapsed lung was also caused by the constant regurgitation, the chest organ having no more room to inflate.
Boerhaave syndrome is classified as a dangerous condition due to its elevated fatality risks, almost 40 percent of patients losing their lives after tearing their esophagus. Unfortunately, if the condition is not treated immediately, the risks of mortality reaches 100 percent.
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