Man nearly dies after pepper eating contest goes wrong

Man ends up in a life threatening condition after eating a ghost pepper

Ghost peppers (Wikimedia)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A man ended up in a life-threatening condition after eating a ghost pepper.

The 47 year-old man ate a puree made of the spicy pepper on top of a burger at a restaurant, as part of an eating contest.

Ghost peppers are one of the hottest chilli peppers in the world, with heat measuring 1 million Scoville heat units. By way of comparison, jalapeños measure 5,000 units. 

After stomaching the spicy meal, the man drank six glasses of water, but then began "violently retching and vomiting," according to the report in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.

He was then taken to an emergency room in San Francisco as he developed severe stomach and chest pains.

A scan showed that his esophagus had torn. During emergency surgery it was found to be leaking a mix of "hamburger, onions and other green vomitus material", to the space around one of his lungs.

His lung had collapsed, and so had to be re-inflated. He was put on a feeding tube in order to allow his esophagus to heal.

Spontaneous esophageal rupture is very rare, but is caused by violent vomiting and retching - meaning it was the man's reaction to the ghost pepper that caused the incident.

The condition is highly dangerous and fatal in 20-40% of cases, even when treatment is received. 

Dr. Ann Arens, a physician in the department of emergency medicine at the University of California, spoke to the man after the surgery and said he "did not seem keen to try [eating a ghost pepper] again." Funny that.