Ghost pepper, eating contest sends man to hospital for 23 days

Brooke Murphy - Print  | 

The Journal of Emergency Medicine reports the unusual case of a man who tore a hole in his esophagus after eating ghost peppers as part of a contest.

A 47-year-old man went to the emergency department with severe chest pain after participating in an eating contest. The contest required competitors to down a hamburger topped with a "ghost pepper puree," according to the report.

The ghost peppers induced such violent retching the individual reportedly tore a hole in his esophagus. The Journal of Emergency Medicine classified the condition as Boerhaave syndrome — spontaneous esophageal rupture.

The man was admitted to the hospital for emergency surgery. The hospital discharged the individual after 23 days.

The ghost pepper is one of the hottest chili peppers in the world, with a measured heat of greater than 1 million Scoville heat units.

The study's authors note ghost peppers typically have "no significant adverse effects."

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