A previously healthy 18-year-old woman consulted a team of gastrointestinal specialists. She complained of a five-month history of pain and swelling in her abdomen, vomiting after eating and a 40-pound weight loss. After a scan of the woman’s abdomen showed a large mass, doctors lowered a scope through her esophagus.
It revealed “a large bezoar occluding nearly the entire stomach,” wrote Drs. Ronald M. Levy and Srinadh Komanduri, gastroenterologists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. For the uninitiated, a bezoar is a hairball. “On questioning, the patient stated that she had had a habit of eating her hair for many years — a condition called trichophagia,” they wrote.
The woman underwent surgery to remove the mass of black, curly hair, which weighed 10 pounds and measured 15 inches by 7 inches by 7 inches, the doctors said. Five days later, she was eating normally and was sent home.
There is a rare condition called trichotillomania, where people pull out their hair over and over again, mostly because they like it and can’t seem to stop. I guess trichotillomaniacs sometimes eat the hair they pull out. Or, perhaps they chew the hair while the hair is still attached, and sometimes manage to swallow it.