When Aakansha Kumari began having health issues, her parents became worried. The 16-year-old wasn’t able to keep her food down, and her weight plummeted below 42 pounds. Her father noticed a visible lump on her stomach and took her to a doctor. What the doctors discovered shocked everyone.
When doctors opened Aakansha’s stomach, they found a giant ball of matted hair, scientifically known as a trichobezoar. The hair took up 80% of her stomach, and it was making its way down her colon.
The matted hair was a result of two mental health conditions that had been plaguing Askansha for years – trichotillomania and trichopagia. The first is a disorder in which a person compulsively tears their hair from their body. The second is a disorder in which a person cannot stop themselves from compulsively eating their own hair. Both conditions are often related to other mental health disorders.
Trichopagia is more extensively studied than trichotillomania and is closely linked to OCD. This is due to the fact that sufferers pull out their hair in a ritualistic manner similar to the habits of those who suffer from diagnosed OCD.
Aakansha underwent surgery to remove the hairball at Doon Medical College and Hospital in India. Thankfully, the surgery was successful. Doctors were able to remove the wad of hair before fragments fell further into her body. Aakansha is feeling better and getting the help she needs.