Doctors remove a 1.2kg hairball from the stomach of a teenager who ate his own hair; know what Rapunzel syndrome is

Doctors remove a 1.2kg hairball from the stomach of a teenager who ate his own hair;  know what Rapunzel syndrome is
hair

Also known as Trichophagia, Rapunzel Syndrome is often associated with trichotillomania, popularly known as the urge to pull out hair from the scalp (Representative Image)

New Delhi: Doctors in Mumbai have removed a 32-inch rugby ball-shaped lock of hair from the stomach of a 13-year-old girl who was admitted after being unable to eat or drink for days.

Doctors at Vasai hospital said the girl had complained of severe abdominal pain and had bouts of vomiting, indigestion and heartburn. Her parents took her to a private clinic where they were treating her but her condition did not improve. She vomited minutes after eating anything.

Therefore, her advanced treatment began with an ultrasound test that revealed an accumulation of human hair in her gastrointestinal tract.

“After examining her stomach and studying the ultrasound report, I spoke to the girl’s parents and learned that she had a history of hair swallowing and nail biting for the last seven or eight years. It is known as Rapunzel Syndrome,” said Dr. Joseph D’souza, who performed the surgery.

Dr. D’souza said the girl is currently recovering in the hospital.

“He often complained of abdominal pain as the buildup of human hair had tightened the muscle causing him to lose his appetite. Since she could not consume food or drink, she lost weight and she has become very thin,” said Dr. D’souza.

What is Rapunzel Syndrome?

According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders in the UK, between 0.5 and 3 percent of people experience trichotillomania, popularly known as Rapunzel syndrome, at some point in their lives. Among people with the condition, only about 1 percent develop masses of hair in the gastrointestinal tract, according to a 2019 study published in the journal Pancreas.

The Mayo Clinic says that eating hair can cause serious complications, including blockage of the intestines and even death. In 2017, a 16-year-old girl in England died from the condition after a hairball in her stomach caused a fatal infection.

The condition, according to WebMD, first described in 1968, is named after a fairy tale character, Rapunzel, known for her long hair.

How does the syndrome occur?

Also known as trichophagia, Rapunzel syndrome is often associated with trichotillomania, popularly known as the urge to pull out hair from the scalp.

Doctors say that hair is difficult for the stomach to break down and digest and gets stuck in the stomach cavity. Over time, eating your hair can cause it to turn into a giant furball.

Signs of Rapunzel Syndrome

Signs and symptoms of this disease include:

  • Stomach ache
  • swelling
  • always feeling full
  • Weightloss
  • nausea and vomiting
  • Low weight and intense fear of weight gain
  • Rib cage pain
  • Hair loss
  • Bad breath

The syndrome can also lead to inability to swallow, depression and anxiety attacks, eating disorders such as anorexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, PTSD, ADHD, and others.

Health risks related to the syndrome

Some complications caused by the syndrome include:

  • Jaundice
  • Obstruction in the abdomen or small intestine
  • Erosion of the mucus lining the stomach and small intestine
  • Holes within the small intestine, also known as perforation of the small intestine
  • Inflammation in the lining of the stomach.
  • swelling of the pancreas

Disclaimer: The tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or dietitian before beginning any fitness program or making changes to your diet.

Leave a Comment