A woman with a penchant for chewing on her own hair developed a hairball weighing over 6.5 pounds in her stomach and intestines.
The housewife from a small village in Punchkula, near Chandigarh, northern India, spent over 20 years chewing on her hair, according to the Mirror.
The constant swallowing of hair had major consequences. One day, the woman was not able to drink or eat anything without vomiting, and she had severe abdominal pain that she could not immediately explain.
She was admitted to a local government hospital, where the doctors discovered that she had a large hairball in her stomach and intestinal tract. At first, the woman denied eating her own hair, but then she finally admitted that she chewed on her locks for many years.
Surgeon Dr. Hardeep Singh said an ultrasound showed the huge hairball in the woman.
"We asked her if she had a habit of chewing her hair, which she denied. But when we got her ultrasound done, it confirmed a huge mass in her stomach that demanded immediate attention."
The woman underwent surgery to remove the hairball, which weighed over 6.5 pounds, and then admitted that she had been eating her own hair since she was about 9-years-old.
Warning: The following video contains graphic imagery!
The hairball had plenty of time to develop into a large mass that was preventing her from eating and causing a major blockage in her intestinal tract. There was no way for her to absorb any food or water while the large hairball was blocking her stomach and intestinal tract.
The patient would begin to suffer from dehydration and malnourishment very quickly after not eating or drinking.
The giant hairball was almost 16 inches long.
After the hairball was removed, the woman was able to eat and digest food properly. She was expected to be released from the hospital in about three days.
The woman had a rare psychological disorder called trichophagia, or Rapunzel syndrome.
According to Dr. Singh, "This is usually found in young girls where they suffer some kind of depression in their early years. Some of them eat chalk, cement, jute and stones. It demands immediate attention. If not noticed, it can be fatal."
Rapunzel syndrome- trichotillomania, trichophagia, trichobezoar. Pt plucks hair, eats it, which collects in stomach pic.twitter.com/8D2h0GVYnB
— Medicine in Pictures (@rxmsimages) January 16, 2016
Shockingly, after the woman admitted to eating the hair that developed into a hairball, she also confessed to eating concrete every day.
The woman had three children, and the doctor decided to ask about the children to see if they had developed Rapunzel syndrome. One of the children had also been eating concrete, according to the Sun.
While Rapunzel syndrome may remind some people of pica, that particular condition is a temporary disorder in which a person craves dirt, metal, and other inedible objects, usually due to an iron deficiency. Rapunzel syndrome is an addiction to eating hair and other inappropriate things.
It may seem hard to believe, but even though the woman had a 6.5-pound hairball removed from her stomach and intestines, she may go on to eat more hair.
Without the proper treatment to address whatever makes the woman want to eat her hair, it is likely that the impulse to continue to eat more hair and cause another large hairball over the years.
Hopefully, the woman and her children were able to receive the proper care for Rapunzel syndrome and will be able to resist chewing on hair and concrete to save their health and even their lives. Chewing on hair and other items can lead to lead poisoning, parasites, and other infections.
[Image via Shutterstock]