Addressing media persons, GMCH dean Shantimalar said on Monday that Janani, daughter of Ayyappan (35) and Amudha (30), both construction workers residing near Arcot, complained of frequent stomach ache and frequent bouts of vomiting, nausea and fainting.
The parents initially took the girl to a nearby primary health centre from where she was shifted to the MCH on February 14.
After tests, doctors at the GMCH suspected that the complications were due to a tumour. A surgery was done on March 6 by a team led by general surgeon Srikanth. To the surprise of the team, there were strands of hair in the abdomen and not a tumour as suspected.
During subsequent interactions Janani revealed the team that she was in the habit of pulling and imbibing her own hair due to severe stress. The absence of both the parents during the day was the reason for the stress, Dr Shantimalar said.
Calling it a rare occurrence, she said the surgery was done free of cost under the Chief Minister’s insurance scheme.
The habit of eating hair is called trichophagia. The compulsive eating of hair associated with trichotillomania (hair pulling). In trichophagia, people with trichotillomania also eat the hair that they pull; in extreme and rare cases this can lead to a hair ball.