A 14-year-old teen from India was experiencing abdominal pain and vomiting. To the doctors' surprise, the girl, identified as Pooja in media reports, had a 3-lb hairball in her stomach. If left unchecked, it could have caused major complications. Luckily, the girl was treated in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh.
According to Fox News, an American conservative pay television news channel, Dr. Rajesh Kumar Pendey, the teen’s lead surgeon, stated that Pooja is now stable after the giant hairball was removed in her stomach. The girl later on revealed that she had been secretly eating her hair. The doctors then diagnosed her with trichophagia, better known as Rapunzel Syndrome. It is an extremely rare condition in which a hairball in the stomach, after one eats the hair, extends into the intestine.
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Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture, and history, reported that a 2018 paper published in the journal Pediatric Reports stated that the condition was first recognized in 1968. There are only about 60 cases of Rapunzel syndrome that have been reported in medical literature. According to a 2009 study in the journal Clinical Medicine and Research, most people who suffered from this condition are children and young adults ages 13 to 20, which is only about 10 percent to 30 percent of people.
People with Rapunzel syndrome compulsively eat their hair, which can cause serious complications. This includes obstruction of the intestines and even death. Dr. Cathy Burnweit, chief of pediatric surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, also stated that this condition could lead to a block in the gastrointestinal tract, making it difficult to eat and causing malnutrition. Patients typically require surgery followed by psychological treatment to address the urge to eat hair.
In 2017, a 16-year-old in the UK died due to an infection caused by a hairball in her stomach.
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