'Ghost Pepper' Chilli-Eating Contest Leaves Man With A Hole In His Throat

Doctors measured an inch-wide hole in his oesophagus.

A 47-year-old has reminded us it’s never a good idea to eat the world’s hottest chillies after an eating contest left him with a hole in his throat.

The unnamed man was taken to hospital after eating a ghost pepper, also known as a bhut jolokia.

The chilli pepper scores around one million Scoville heat units - the unit used to measure heat - making it more than twice as hot as the jalapeño pepper.

It was found to be the third hottest chilli in the world by analysts at the 2016 Guinness Book of World Records.

The ghost pepper.
DebbiSmirnoff via Getty Images
The ghost pepper.

According to the case study detailed in The Journal of Emergency Medicine, the man ate a burger laced with ghost pepper puree as part of an extreme-eating contest.

He soon experienced chest pain and severe vomiting and was taken to A&E.

Upon examination, doctors discovered he had a 2.5cm tear in his oesophagus and needed surgery.

He survived the ordeal, but spent a total of 23 days in hospital recovering.

According to the paper, the medical term for a rupture in the oesophagus wall is Boerhaave syndrome. The syndrome is rare, but can be induced by severe retching.

The paper concludes: “This case serves as an important reminder of a potentially life-threatening surgical emergency initially interpreted as discomfort after a large spicy meal.”

Dr Helen Webberley, the dedicated GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy, previously explained the potential health implications of eating very spicy food.

“Chillies contain a compound called capsaicin, which causes the familiar burning sensation, along with other chemicals that stimulate the nerve fibres,” she told The Huffington Post UK.

“However, these cause no real harm to the nerves themselves. Eating very hot chillies can cause diarrhoea as the gut works to expel them from the body as quickly as possible.”

Dr Nitin Shori, an NHS GP partner and medical director of the Pharmacy2U Online Doctor service, pointed out that the patient detailed in the journal “appears to have had an underlying medical condition that was identified after he had consumed particularly spicy foods”.

“That said, particularly spicy foodstuffs can lead to problems for some people,” he added.

“The growing trend for eating ‘extreme’ foods, including hotter varieties of chilli pepper, presents genuine risks for people who are not aware of the damage that can be done by certain ingredients.

“This can include mouth burns and stomach problems. Spicy food can also cause heartburn and acid reflux.”

He added that even mildly spiced foods can cause stomach cramps in people who are not accustomed to them.

“Always make sure that you are aware of the spice content of any meal and never be afraid to ask for a dish to be served to your particular taste,” he said.

“Water can exacerbate the discomfort of spice heat in the mouth, spreading the source foodstuffs around the mouth rather than neutralising them.

“Try drinking milk or eating ice cream as that can help to neutralise the chemicals that cause oral discomfort.”

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