Surgeons in India were baffled to discover a five feet long hairball from a 15-year-old girl’s stomach after she had become addicted to eating HAIR!
Kavita Kumari had been swallowing single strands of her hair for the last year. The teenager’s addiction was so severe that she would not just eat her own hair but also pick up other people’s hair strands she would found lying around. She even plucked hair of her classmates at school and eat it.
Her addiction meant she had lost interest in eating food and would vomit each time she was force-fed. She would often complain of severe abdominal pain and weakness.
Her parents took her to many doctors when they noticed Kavita’s stomach become distended abnormally. But, they were sent away with her home medicines that would subside the pain and swelling for some time.
But, when Kavita’s condition deteriorated her father Bechan Ram, 34, a farmer, brought her to Siddharth Multi Speciality Hospital and research Centre in Uttar Pradesh. After a thorough assessment, doctors found a large, firm mass in her abdomen. A CT scan further revealed Kavita had five-foot long hairball in her stomach. It also showed a large lesion in her stomach and small bowel.
Doctors discovered she had Rapunzel Syndrome, a rare condition in which a hairball is found in the stomach and mostly affects young women. According to Dr. Lal Bahadur Sidharth, Gastro and Laproscopic surgeon,
Kavita had come to us with complaints of extreme pain in the stomach. She was in a very serious condition. She was malnourished and very weak. She was barely able to stand on her own. Her parents told us about her habit of eating hair. We did endoscopy on her that revealed she had hairball inside her stomach. We diagnosed her with Trichotillomania.
Trichotillomania is the term used for the psychological condition in which a person has an urge to pull hair.
Her condition was so bad that I had told her parents she might not make it through the surgery. But after her parents consent, we took her for operation that lasted more than two hours. I didn’t expect the hairball to be this big. After I removed it from her stomach we were shocked. I measured it and it turned out to be five feet long. I had never seen such a case before,” said Dr. Sidhart.
On the other hand, Kavita is recovering at the hospital and she will be able to eat properly soon.
Since Rapunzel Syndrome is a psychological disorder, Kavita will be given counselling sessions by doctors in order to shake off the hair-eating habit once she recovers fully.
The teenager’s mom, Phool Devi, however, is still unable to accept her daughter has a psychological disorder but is glad Kavita could be saved.
She was so weak that we had assumed she would not survive another day. We did not know she was in the habit of eating hair. Though I noticed many times that she plucked couple of strands from my hair and even her classmates told me she did the same with them. But I never took it seriously as I thought she was plucking their hair to tease them. I had no idea she was apparently eating hair! I am thankful to doctors for saving her life.”