An American man was hospitalized after burning a hole in his esophagus while attempting to eat the world’s hottest chili pepper. The 47-year-old man was eating a burger that was doused in ghost pepper, a powerful orange chili pepper from India. Just seconds after taking his first bite, the man started vomiting violently. He reeled on the floor in pain, and was rushed to a nearby hospital. Abdomen and pelvic scans revealed a buildup of air, food and fluid inside the man’s body. He was taken to the operating room, where surgeons found a 2.5 cm tear in the left side of his throat. The man, whose name was not released, was given a breathing tube for 14 days. He spent an additional nine days in the hospital before being discharged and needed a feeding tube, as well. It is unclear if the ghost pepper caused the man’s esophagus to rupture. Inflammation and retching could have also caused the tear, or a combination of all three.
Ghost peppers have a recorded measured heat of 1,000,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). Habanero peppers are only half as hot, while Cayenne peppers are measured at about 30,000-50,000 SHU.