In Mumbai, doctors pulled out 750 grams of hair from a 20-year-old girl at Rajawadi Hospital, Ghatkopar. She was addicted to pulling out her own hair and eating it. This continuous pulling and eating of hair formed a 750g big ball inside her stomach. When she was brought to the hospital her symptoms were, nausea and a swollen abdomen, she was pale and had lost appetite and would vomit anything she consumed. She was suffering from a rare syndrome called the Rapunzel Syndrome
What is Rapunzel Syndrome?
It is an unusually rare condition in humans wherein the patients ingest hair so that it forms a bezoar in their stomach. It is named after the long haired princess Rapunzel from the fairy tale by Brothers Grimm.
This is associated with a hair-pulling disorder called Trichotillomania. The compulsive disorder of eating hair, Trichophagia is linked to the hair-pulling disorder Trichotillomania. Therefore, as human gastrointestinal tract isn’t able to digest human hair, it creates a Trichobezoar, a big ball of hair that has to be removed surgically.
Patients also sometimes need psychiatric evaluation and treatment to stop this impulsive pulling and eating of hair.
Rapunzel syndrome gets its name because of the ‘tail’ of the hair ball extends to the intestines, like how Rapunzel’s hair extends from the balcony to her ground. It can be fatal if misdiagnosed.