An unnamed American man has ended up with an inch-wide hole in his oesophagus after eating the notoriously hot ‘ghost pepper’ during a chilli eating contest.
The man was admitted to hospital when he began vomiting and retching violently after he ate a hamburger laced with ghost pepper puree.
When he was admitted to the hospital, doctors found an inch-wide hole in his oesophagus, and he underwent emergency surgery and remained in the hospital for 23 days.
The ghost pepper, or bhut jolokia, was considered the world’s hottest chilli until 2013 when it was surpassed by the Carolina Reaper pepper. It is a favourite among chilli enthusiasts and competitive eaters.
Ghost peppers have a measured heat of more than 1,000,000 Scoville heat units (SHU) – more than twice the strength of a habanero pepper. Cayenne pepper registers at around 30,000-50,000 SHU.
The thumb-sized chilli pepper with frightening potency is widely eaten as a spice, a cure for stomach troubles and, strangely used as a way to fight the crippling summer heat in its native India.
Doctors initially assumed the man’s symptoms were related to discomfort after his meal until the rupture in his oesophagus was discovered.
The rare condition caused by excessive vomiting is called Boerhaave syndrome. It carries a high mortality rate and is named after the 18th-century physician whose patient died after vomiting up a gluttonous lunch.