A Guy Ate A Pepper So Hot That It Ripped A Hole in His Throat
The ghost pepper, also known as bhut jolokia, is one of the hottest chilies in existence. It scores more than one million on the Scoville heat scale, which should tell you... well, not much of anything because spiciness can’t actually be measured using numerical units. So just picture the spiciest chili you can imagine, and we’ll say this is way hotter.
All of which brings us to our story about a ghost pepper challenge at a California restaurant in 2016. Our 47-year-old hero, whom the Journal of Emergency Medicine does not identify by name when documenting this incident, came to the restaurant and ordered their ghost pepper burger. This was not a normal menu dish but part of a contest, as the restaurant believed that most customers would not be able to stomach bhut jolokia pureed over a hamburger patty. However, our hero did down the burger.
His mouth burned afterward, and he chugged six glasses of water, which was expected. He then threw up, which was again something the restaurant likely anticipated. But after that, he felt chest pains so severe that he needed to go to the emergency room. This was one step beyond what the restaurant had planned.
At times, you may have felt like you’ve thrown up so hard that you shredded your throat. But once doctors examined this guy, they discovered that he actually had torn a hole right through his esophagus — a rip about one-inch long. This caused spicy vomit to shoot from his gastrointestinal tract and out loose into his chest cavity. Surgeons had to cut into him between his ribs, where they extracted “hamburger, onions and other green vomitus material.”
Such a tear is called Boerhaave syndrome to distinguish it from various other kinds of esophageal rips that aren’t nearly as dangerous. Without surgery, this type of an injury is 100 percent fatal, and even with surgery, the fatality rate hovers around 30 percent. Luckily, our sultan of spice did survive. While he couldn’t ingest any food for a couple of weeks, he eventually recovered.
We’re not calling a slashed gullet the certain result of eating spicy food, but we think the message here is clear: When you inevitably attempt a ghost pepper challenge yourself, be sure to slurp a cool milkshake between every bite.
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