After eating ghost peppers, which are arguably the hottest peppers on the planet, said to possess “more than twice the strength of a habanero pepper,” a 47-year-old man has been hospitalized.
The San Francisco resident was plowing through an eating contest that involved the scalding peppers. After downing the ghost peppers, or “bhut jolokia”, he rushed to the ER “with severe abdominal and chest pain subsequent to violent retching and vomiting after eating ghost peppers,” according to the doctors.
Chest x-rays and CT scans found air near a part of his esophagus, “suggestive of a spontaneous esophageal perforation,” said Dr. Ann Arens, and her medical team from the University of California, San Francisco.
“The patient was intubated and taken immediately to the operating room, where he was noted to have a 2.5-centimeter [1-inch] tear” in his esophagus,” they added.
Fortunately, the repercussions of the eating contest for the man was the need for feeding tubes for another two weeks, keeping him hospitalized for 23 days in all.
According to Arens’ team, this is the first reported medical case associated with ghost pepper ingestion. Ruptures of the esophagus are also rare – and highly dangerous; ruptures of the throat have “a high mortality rate,” the doctors said.
“The case serves as an important reminder of a potentially life-threatening surgical emergency initially interpreted as discomfort after a large spicy meal.”