Warning: The following article contains images that some readers may find disturbing.
When the parents of a 10-year-old girl in Kemerovo, Russia noticed that their daughter was constantly chewing on her long, braided hair, they first thought that she had simply developed an annoying habit and would soon grow out of it. But when their daughter began complaining about extreme stomach pain combined with fever and nausea, they knew that something was very wrong and brought her to the hospital. The doctors performed X-rays to find out what the problem was and were speechless when they saw the results.
At first the doctors thought that the young girl was suffering from food poisoning. But after thoroughly examining the X-rays they could clearly see that she actually had a large hairball in her stomach. They had never seen anything like it, but knew one thing for sure: an emergency operation would be necessary to remove it. After two hours of surgery they managed to extract the hairy mass from the girl's stomach and they couldn't believe their eyes — the hairball was nearly 20 inches long! It's not unusual to find swallowed hair in people's stomachs, but never before had they seen so much of it tangled together to form an enormous clump.
After the successful operation the doctors explained what had probably caused the huge hairball to form. It turned out that the girl had been having problems in school and had been constantly teased and bullied by her classmates. In order to deal with the stress, she had started chewing on her long braids of hair and swallowing the ends that she had bitten off. This hair accumulated in her stomach and formed a lump that grew bigger and bigger until it began to irritate her stomach lining. Thank goodness the doctors were able to remove it before it became life-threatening.
Normally swallowing hair is not dangerous, but in this case the sheer mass was more than the girl's body could handle and could have led to severe complications in her intestinal system. Fortunately she is now recovering from the operation and will hopefully be able to overcome her hair-eating habit and stay healthy. Apparently she is also getting along better with her classmates which will help to reduce the stress that caused the habit to form in the first place.
Who would have thought that a nervous habit could be so dangerous? We often think of stress as being an adult problem, but this example shows that even children can be drastically affected by it and how dangerous it can be to our health.