A British woman who suffered unexplained abdominal pain for months “cried with relief” after doctors removed a 14-pound hairball from her stomach.
Sophie Cox, 23, of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, told South West News Service that the giant ball of human hair was built up over seven years of eating her locks of hair.
Six years ago, Cox was diagnosed with both trichotillomania, a condition where sufferers have a compulsive urge to pull out their hair, and and trichophagia, where they eat it.
Cox said when she was stressed, she found comfort from plucking strands of hair and eating them during the day, according to SWNS.
She thought it was harmless until she became pregnant in 2014. During her pregnancy, Cox suffered serious stomach pains and kept losing weight at a time when she should be gaining it.
Two months after her daughter was born, the pains became excruciating and left her doubled in agony.
“By October 2015, I couldn’t eat without vomiting and my stomach would swell up,” she told the news agency. “I’d lost [84 pounds] in two years and dropped six dress sizes, taking me to a size 12.”
Doctors had no clue what was wrong, but tested Cox for gallstones and stomach cancer.
It wasn’t until Cox had an endoscopy last November that they figured out what was wrong: that giant hairball.
“When they showed me the scan I was speechless. It looked like something from a horror film,” she said. “The specialist hadn’t seen anything like it in 30 years. It was too big to break down in my stomach, leaving me malnourished and dehydrated.”
Even worse than finding out she had a giant hairball in her stomach was waiting five months to have it removed.
The hairball, or “trichobezoar,” was removed in a six-hour operation.
“I felt instantly better when I woke up, even though I was sore and groggy,” she said. “It was disgusting. I cried with relief that it was gone.”
Since then, Cox has been monitored regularly to ensure no other hairballs develop. She is also on a waiting list to receive treatment to help determine the underlying causes of her conditions.
“I’m just so thankful the hairball was found before it was too late,” Huffington reports says she said. “Now I can get on with being a hands-on mum.”