A 15-year-old girl in India was rushed to hospital after she was unable to eat or drink. When doctors figured out what was wrong, they were shocked.
The teen, from India’s Punjab state, surprised doctors when scans revealed that she had a massive hairball inside her stomach, the Daily Mail reports.
The teen was diagnosed with a rare condition, called Rapunzel syndrome, after doctors realized the hairball was causing her inability to eat and drink.
The girl had a history of trichotillomania, in which people pull out their own hair, and trichophagia, in which people eat their own hair.
Doctors learned the teen had been chewing her hair for years, which resulted in a massive buildup of hair. Eventually, her stomach had become so backed up that she would vomit every time she tried to eat.
The 2-pound hairball was surgically removed from the teen’s stomach.
The condition is incredibly rare, with less than 120 cases ever recorded. According to a report in medical journal BMJ Case Reports, the condition almost exclusively affects young women.
In the U.S. in October 2016, a 38-year-old woman similarly had a hairball removed from her stomach after being diagnosed with Rapunzel syndrome. The woman’s hairball was 6 inches across. According to the BBC, the woman’s stomach swelled after filling up with liquids and gas and she suddenly began vomiting and having constipation.
The woman stopped eating food for nearly a year, losing 15 pounds in eight months. When she was finally brought to the hospital in Arizona, she was unable to keep down any food.
Doctors removed the massive hairball from her stomach in an abdominal surgery. The hair was so densely packed inside her stomach that it had begun to trail down into her intestines.
After the hairball was removed, the woman was prescribed a high-protein diet to help with recovery.
Sources: Daily Mail, BBC / Photo credit: Cover Asia Press via Daily Mail