Well, we guess it’s true what they say: It’s all fun and games until someone burns a gaping hole in their esophagus. For years, amateur pepper-eaters have been daring themselves to ingest some of the world’s hottest chillies—recently posting the ill-advised videos to YouTube for the world to see—and now this experiment in capsaicin pain control has predictably ended in the hospital.
According to the Journal of Emergency Medicine, an anonymous, 47-year-old man was recently admitted to the ER after a hot pepper eating contest, complaining of severe abdominal and chest pain. Aptly titled “Esophageal Rupture After Ghost Pepper Ingestion,” the medical report details how the patient ate a burger topped with a puree made from Bhut jolokia—also known as the “ghost pepper,” a chili clocking in at over a million units on the Scoville scale—before experiencing “violent retching and vomiting.” When the doctors took a closer look, they found that man had actually burned a hole in his throat.
According to the Washington Post, the man tried his best to cure his discomfort on his own, gulping down six glasses of water in an attempt to quench the searing pain in his mouth. The man wasn’t able to “tolerate” liquids again until his 17th day in the hospital, and wasn’t discharged for over three weeks.
Ultimately, the physicians hope the man’s story will continue to serve as a cautionary tale.
“When people ask me whether it is safe to try the ‘spicy food challenges’ I generally take a Nancy Reagan stance and say ‘Just Say No,’” Ann Arens, a clinical fellow at UC San Francisco, and one of the authors of the study, told the Washington Post. “But if you really just can’t help yourself, I would recommend just starting with a taste.”
Let this be a warning to us all: Leave the chili pepper-eating to the professionals.