Calif man eats ghost pepper on a challenge and burns hole in his esophagus
The are plenty of viral videos out there showing people participating in strange and crazy food challenges. These are supposed to be funny and most of the time they are completely harmless except for some digestive discomfort and possible a lifetime of embarrassment.
But certain foods and spices need be dealt with much more cautiously as they can cause very serious medical issues and sometimes result in death.
For one unlucky 47-year old man from the San Francisco Bay Area, a food challenge left him with an extended hospital stay, a rupture in his esophagus, and a gastric tube.
As crazy as it sounds, this really happened. In fact it was recently documented in a case study in the Journal of Emergency Medicine. The food in this challenge was a very hot pepper. To be exact- the bhut jolokia, more commonly known as the “Ghost Pepper”.
The Ghost Pepper
In 2007, Guinness World Records certified that the Ghost pepper was the world’s hottest chili pepper, 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. The Ghost chili is rated at more than 1 million Scoville heat units (SHUs). However, the ghost chili was shortly superseded by the Infinity chili in 2011, followed by the Naga Viper, the Trinidad moruga scorpion in 2012, and the Carolina Reaper on August 7, 2013 (source- Wikipedia)
The website howstuffworks gives this description of eating a ghost pepper-
“When you bite into a ghost pepper, your mouth feels heat in the most extreme way. Your tongue’s receptors register the intensity of the pepper and relay that information to your brain, which interprets the pepper as a burning, pain-inducing interloper. This causes a chain reaction in your body as the capsaicin in the ghost pepper initiates widespread tissue inflammation and begins to wreak havoc on your nerve endings, dilating blood vessels and making you feel hot all over. Suddenly, you’re too, too hot.”