An American man was hospitalized after burning a hole in his esophagus while attempting to eat the world's hottest chili pepper.
The 47-year-old man was eating a burger that was doused in Bhut jolokia, or ghost pepper, a powerful orange chili pepper from India, the Daily Mail reported.
Just seconds after taking his first bite, the man started vomiting violently. He reeled on the floor in pain, and was rushed to a nearby hospital.
Abdomen and pelvic scans revealed a buildup of air, food and fluid inside the man’s body. He was taken to the operating room, where surgeons found a 2.5 cm tear in the left side of his throat.
The man, whose name was not released, was given a breathing tube for 14 days. He spent an additional nine days in the hospital before being discharged and needed a feeding tube, as well.
“This case serves as an important reminder of a potentially life-threatening surgical emergency initially interpreted as discomfort after a large spicy meal,” medics wrote in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.
It is reportedly considered rare for people to survive a tear in the esophagus. The medical complication was first reported in 1724 by Dutch doctor Herman Boerhaave. The condition became known as Boerhaave syndrome.
It is unclear if the ghost pepper caused the man’s esophagus to rupture. Inflammation and retching could have also caused the tear, or a combination of all three.
Ghost peppers have a recorded measured heat of 1,000,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). Habanero peppers are only half as hot, while Cayenne peppers are measured at about 30,000-50,000 SHU, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The thumb-sized chili pepper is used as a spice and is used to cure stomach problems. It is also used to fight the summer heat in India.