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Tobacco Smoker Grows Hair In Throat In ‘Unusual’ And ‘Rare’ Complication, Report Shows

An active tobacco smoker who had developed a chronic cough and persistent irritation in his throat was found with hair sprouting in his throat, a medical case report from north-central Austria revealed.

The male patient, 52 — unnamed in compliance with medical ethics — was about 35 years old when he complained at The Kepler University Hospital in Linz of “respiratory distress attacks at night, snoring, hoarseness, and chronic coughing,” according to the report published Jun. 18. The patient once brought up a five-centimeter-long (nearly two-inch-long) hair strand during a coughing fit, the medical researchers stated.

He had been smoking since he was 20-years-old, the report read. He had undergone a tracheotomy and skin transplant in his windpipe when a first-aid procedure to save him from a near-drowning experience at age 10 accidentally damaged his voice box.

The researchers found the patient’s throat had narrowed and was inflamed, with scabs, plaques and some bacterial and fungal growths, according to the report. “Surprisingly, hair was growing in the graft area,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers published images of the approximately two-inch hair strands deep in the patient’s throat in the report. (RELATED: Comedian Undergoes Emergency Surgery After Receiving Frightening Diagnosis)

Treatment included plucking out the hair from the man’s windpipe, removing the plaques and scab debris and antibiotic therapy, according to the report. Subsequent inspection of his throat showed marked healing — but the hair kept growing from the graft area, up from within his throat, past his voice box and into his mouth.

A few years of repeated additional treatment cleared the hair and helped his windpipe heal from the resulting scars, the report revealed. “Of interest, marked symptomatic and functional improvement was especially achieved after the patient’s smoking cessation,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers suggested that the patient’s smoking had triggered the cells of the skin graft in his throat to sprout the hairs, according to the report. The graft had been taken from the patient’s ears.

The hair-raising complication was part of an “unusual clinical course” and was “rare”, according to the report. There was only one very similar case on record to the best of the researchers’ knowledge — a case which also entailed a tracheotomy and skin transplant.

The report appeared in the American Journal of Case Reports. Four of its five authors — including Paul Thöne, the report’s lead author — are work at the medical faculty at Johannes Kepler University in Linz and are pulmonologists at The Kepler University Medical Facility, according to the website. The fifth author is a pulmonologist at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria.

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