The syndrome of Rapunzel is a psychological illness that arises in patients suffering from tricotilomania and tricotilofagia, or will uncontrollable to tear off and swallow their own hair, which are accumulated in the stomach, causing severe abdominal pain and weight loss.
Typically, this syndrome arises because the hair ingested accumulate in the stomach, because it can not be digested, forming a ball of hair, scientifically called tricobezoar intussusception, which extends from the stomach to the intestine, causing obstruction of the digestive system.
The syndrome of Rapunzel has healing through surgery to remove the buildup of hair from the stomach and intestine, however, the patient should do psychotherapy to treat the will uncontrollable plucking and eating her own hair, avoiding the syndrome re-appears.
Causes of the syndrome of Rapunzel
The syndrome of Rapunzel can be triggered by two psychological disorders, the tricotilomania, that is the will uncontrollable plucking hair, and the tricofagia, which is the habit of ingesting hair plucked up by the roots. Learn more about the tricotilomania.
From a nutritional point of view, the desire to eat the hair can be associated with iron deficiency, but usually, this syndrome is more related to psychological issues, such as excess stress or emotional problems, such as the separation of the parents or termination of a courtship, for example.
Thus, the syndrome of Rapunzel is most common in children or teenagers who have no other way of relieving the daily pressure, having a will, uncontrollable to tear off and swallow their own hair.
The main symptoms
The main feeling associated with the syndrome of Rapunzel is a shame, usually by the fact of the loss of hair in some areas of the head. Other symptoms of the syndrome of Rapunzel are:
- Abdominal pain;
- Weight loss for no apparent reason;
- Loss of appetite;
- Vomiting frequently after meals.
When the person has the habit of plucking and eating the hair often and displays one of these symptoms, you should go to the er to do diagnostic tests, such as ultrasound, computed tomography or X-ray, to diagnose the problem and start proper treatment, preventing potential complications, such as perforation of the intestine.
What to do
The treatment for the Syndrome of Rapunzel should be guided by a gastroenterologist, and is usually done with surgery by laparoscopy to remove the ball of hair that is in the stomach.
After the surgery for the syndrome of Rapunzel is recommended to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist to start the treatment with the objective of reducing the will uncontrollable eating hair, avoiding the emergence of a new tricobezoar intussusception.
In addition, depending on the degree of psychological disorder, may be requested by the doctor the use of some antidepressants, that can help in the process of lowering the habit.