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Compulsive Swallowing Of Hair Caused Woman To Die; Almost 10-Inch Hairball Found In Stomach

Update Date: Jan 26, 2017 08:40 AM EST
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Compulsive swallowing of hair is known as trichophagia and can result to an extremely rare condition known as Rapunzel Syndrome. It is often associated with hair-pulling disorder called trichotillomania.

According to The Sun, 24-year-old Karen Carroll died of complications from a hairball measuring 9.84 inches found in her stomach and intestines. In 2009, she was advised to undergo surgery, but failed to comply. Five years after, Carroll fell ill and experience weight loss. She was later admitted to Mater Hospital on February 2015 due to abdominal pain and dehydration.

Carroll, who worked as a Debenhams department store supervisor, had large hairball extending in her stomach to her intestine. The first section of the hairball measures between 25 to 38 centimeters.

Rapunzel Syndrome is named after the princess from Brothers Grimm fairy tale who has an incredibly long hair. Tricophagia is a psychiatric disorder in which individuals compulsively swallow their own hair, according to Fox News.

It was reported that there have been 88 cases of compulsive swallowing. In October 2016, a woman was also found to have a large hairball in her stomach measuring 15x10 centimeters, and in her intestine measuring 4x3 centimeters.

Before the surgery, the woman was throwing up food and her abdomen was protruding. She had lost her appetite which caused her to lose 15 pounds over the last eight months. She also had low levels of protein in her blood.

After a successful surgery, doctors advised her to consume a diet high in protein and undergo psychiatric evaluation. The human gastrointestinal tract is unable to digest human hair, and the patient will soon experience indigestion and stomach pain. The condition is fatal especially if it is misdiagnosed.

Ritual is a strong factor in trichophagia which includes hair pulling. The person may start touching the root bulb to the lips, tasting the hair, sometimes chewing before swallowing. Some people who have Rapunzel Syndrome may even also even eat the hairs of other people.

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