He ate more than 5 kilos of pickles at once and his brain almost collapsed

He ate more than 5 kilos of pickles at once and his brain almost collapsed

We all love pickles, right? That acid sensation that surrounds the tongue after each bite only can be described as organoleptic ecstasy. The same thought was given to an American woman —nicknamed BT to preserve her privacy— whose case has been recorded in the scientific literature for posterity. She was a fan of food challenge videos on YouTube. And she thought: “why don’t I make history too?”. And what if she did. But not in the way she expected.

BT is a 33-year-old woman who presented to the ER with nausea, vomiting, and a headache from another dimension. To the surprise of the health workers, her fault was a huge number of pickles introduced down her throat a few hours before. Specifically, she BT ate an entire 1-gallon jar of pickles: the equivalent of 5 and a half kilograms of plant food. Yes, it’s not a joke.

A few hours before the pickling incident, BT was about to record a food challenge, popularly known as “mukbang”. This time he chose pickles as the theme, and decided to venture into the abyss. Buoyed by her audience, BT had to get over it. She noticed that, with each edible attack she committed, her audience was growing more and more. The next challenge of food had to be legendary.

Clinical case collected by the YouTube channel “Chubbyemu”.

In his head it sounded amazing. If pickles were health foods, what could go wrong with this crazy vegetable foray? This is what he commented on before his audience, while he retransmitted such a food outrage. Of course, he had to take several bathroom breaks. His excretory organs were on edge. As if that were not enough, when he finished eating all the pickles he also perked up with the leftover liquid. That is, in addition he drank the liquid that accompanied the pickles. This liquid that normally accompanies preserves has a preservative function and is called the governing or covering liquid: it is usually made up of vinegar, oil, water, salt and sugar.

As you can imagine, drinking it is not the most pleasant of experiences, not by a long shot. However, BT did not cease in its desire to push the healthiness of your body to the limit. After each drink, the vinegar caused the appearance of sores in his mouth. Upon finishing the entire jar, BT felt extremely bloated. At 20 minutes, intestinal chaos began to break loose. His stomach was totally broken, and he couldn’t get off the toilet bowl for hours. She felt like his organs were liquefying and gushing out.

Interestingly, in all this time BT did not have the need to drink water, something that later had an enormous importance in his clinical picture. The pain in his stomach kept increasing after each minute. And his head was no less. This far outweighed any punctual food-induced indigestion. So she finally called the emergency room and she was immediately treated at the nearest hospital.

The excess of salt for the pickles almost caused his death

Once in the hospital, BT had difficulty expressing himself. She was speechless, so the doctors had severe problems understanding her explanation about the pickles. Still, the relevant tests revealed the truth: BT had been full of pickles, and her blood was full of sodium. She was not surprising, since the 1-gallon jar of pickles contained at least 20 grams of sodium, not counting the liquid ingested afterwards. The pickle liquid could easily contain an extra 10-15 grams of sodium, adding up to about 30 grams total. But of course, this is sodium, one of the chemical elements that make up table salt: sodium chloride. If we mean real salt, BT an equivalent of 80 grams of salt was placed between his chest and back. A real saline savagery.

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This excessive intake of salt through pickles is a real problem: about 40 grams of salt can be lethal, half of what BT consumed. Therefore, it is not surprising that BT was losing consciousness. What the hell was happening to his brain? The explanation lies in the mechanisms of balance between sodium and water present in our body. When the amount of sodium is so high, the water tends to flow towards the sodium to balance its concentration. In this way, the water inside BT’s body was moving into her stomach and intestines, which is why she felt so bloated.

In addition, BT lost a brutal amount of water for hours during its forays into the toilet bowl. So that the sodium concentration in his blood was higher than normal. He had lost too much fluid that had not been replaced, as we previously mentioned: his own blood was leaving all his organs without water, with the purpose of stopping the saline massacre. Additionally, his muscles were also stiff from the loss of water.

His brain completely collapsed

But the worst part of the experience with the pickles was his brain: it kept contracting from the high presence of salt. Since the internal water was being sucked out, the blood vessels in her brain might be torn. This would cause bleeding that can lead to permanent brain damage. How can such a problem be solved? The solution goes through replenish all fluid lost along the wayto try to dilute the sodium gradually.

Unfortunately, something was still going wrong. The brain tends to resist contractions to prevent water loss, so recovery is not immediate. The problem was, therefore, that if the medical team tried to rehydrate BT’s body, they ran the risk of his brain expanding to try to correct the salinity: there was a real risk of crushing of the brain against the walls of the skull. As the hours passed, BT’s blood pressure began to drop. Her kidneys completely stopped working, but both her reflexes and her pupillary response were positive.

It might not be too late. And it wasn’t. When BT regained consciousness at the hospital, she was transferred to the intensive care unit before being sent home, where she made a full recovery. In the end, this story had a happy ending. However, she remembers food challenges are extremely dangerous. They involve risky practices for your health, and can be fatal. Be very careful with them. Do not try to do this at home, for your health.