Doctors discovered a giant mound of hair inside a British woman's stomach, after she spent years pulling her own hair out and eating it in her sleep.
According to the Daily Mail, 23-year-old Sophie Cox of Gloucester, England, had been struggling to keep down food and lost more than 80 pounds in 2 years.
Eventually, Cox experienced stomach pains and was even losing weight while pregnant with her first child. After her daughter, Alice, was born in 2014, Cox began experiencing severe abdominal pains and couldn't eat without vomiting, Mad World News reports.
By October 2015, I couldn't eat without vomiting and my stomach would swell up. I'd lost [84 pounds] in two years, and dropped six dress sizes, taking me to a size 12. Doctors had no idea what was wrong with me, they tested me for gallstones and stomach cancer but found nothing. By then I was reliant on my partner Craig and family to look after Alice, as I was in constant agony. I thought I was dying.
Cox eventually saw a specialist who performed a scope procedure on her and discovered a massive hair ball in her stomach. She has since been diagnosed with trichophagia, or 'Rapunzel syndrome,' which is the compulsion to eat one's own hair.
"When they showed me the scan, I was speechless. It looked like something from a horror film," Cox recalled. "The specialist hadn't seen anything like it in 30 years. It was too big to break down in my stomach, leaving me malnourished and dehydrated. Years-worth of my brunette locks were clumped together in my tummy and the hair ball was growing by the day, it was killing me."
Cox claims that she found bald patches on her head six years ago, and realized she had been pulling her hair out in her sleep, but had no idea what it was doing to her internally.
"I would wake up in the night and find strands of hair in my mouth," she remembers. "If I was having a hard day, I would absent-mindedly wrap a lock of hair round my fingers, tug it out, and then feel a satisfying pain shoot through my scalp. Then I'd stuff the strands into my mouth and feel instant relief. Friends would notice and slap my hands away from my head, but they thought it was a habit, not a condition. If I repressed the urge during the day I'd only pull out more clumps at night."
Since the operation, Cox is monitored regularly for hair balls and is going to see a psychologist to work on the underlying cause of the condition.
"I'm just so thankful the hair ball was found before it was too late," says Cox. "Now I can get on with being a hands-on [mom]."