Man suffers esophageal perforation from Bhut Jolokia chili
How spicy can people eat? Can spicy eating result in serious damage to health? Yes, it can, as a recent case in the USA shows. A dramatic emergency occurred during a competition. Doctors at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) are currently reporting a spontaneous esophageal perforation (Boerhaave syndrome) in a patient after eating particularly hot chillies as part of an eating competition. The chilies called "Bhut Jolokia" or "Ghost pepper" literally burned a hole in the man's esophagus.
Physical symptoms are quite normal with particularly spicy food, but these are usually kept within limits. In addition to the burning sensation in the mouth and throat, the eyes may water, the nose starts to run and we start to sweat. But the 47-year-old patient from the United States has experienced far worse. The consumption of Bhut Jolokia, which was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for over a million Scoville as the hottest chillies in the world, caused him to perforate his esophagus. The case, which had already occurred in the past year, is currently reported in the specialist journal "Journal of Emergency Medicine".
Severe chest and abdominal pain
According to the doctors, the 47-year-old man with severe abdominal and chest pain after severe gagging and vomiting was admitted to the emergency department of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the UCSF. The patient had previously consumed large quantities of Bhut Jolokia sauce as part of a eating contest. According to the doctors, the immediately initiated X-ray examination of the chest showed a left-sided pleural effusion (fluid accumulation in the pleural cavity), which made further action urgently necessary. Computed tomography also showed "air around the distal esophagus, which indicated spontaneous esophageal perforation and a left-sided pneumothorax," the doctors write.
Esophageal perforation is a life-threatening emergency
The patient was intubated and surgery immediately initiated, revealing an approximately 2.5 cm long tear in the esophagus through which fluid and food residues had escaped. A left-sided pneumothorax had also formed. However, the doctors were able to save the man's life and after just three weeks he was able to leave the hospital again. Although spontaneous esophageal perforation or Boerhaave syndrome is a rare disease, the doctors warn that there is a high mortality rate. "This case serves as an important reminder of a potentially life-threatening surgical emergency, which can initially be interpreted as discomfort after a large, spicy meal," the doctors concluded. (fp)