A Ghost Pepper Burned a Hole in a Man’s Throat

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Photo: Michael A. Cheatham/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Somewhere, a mother is shaking her head hard-core: Doctors say a 47-year-old in San Francisco, with apparently no edifying hobbies, ate a ghost pepper during an eating contest, and it tore a one-inch hole in his esophagus.

The ghost pepper, or bhut jolokia, is one of the Earth’s hottest things. It has a rating of about one million Scoville units (ordinary Tabasco sauce measures around 2,500 to 5,000), was briefly the world’s hottest chili pepper, and makes for some really uncomfortable YouTube viewing. This man, though, agreed to eat a burger slathered in its purée. To calm the ensuing inferno, doctors say he fruitlessly tried guzzling six glasses of water, before abandoning all hope and calling for emergency help. “Forceful vomiting and retching” followed, and once he got to the hospital, doctors in the operating room discovered a “2.5-cm tear in the distal esophagus.”

Surgeons were able to repair the man’s organ — which, again, was ruptured by a hamburger — but only after keeping him intubated for 14 days. He began “tolerating liquids” on the 17th day, and finally got discharged “with a gastric tube in place” on day 23. Totally worth it!