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Austrian man grows hair inside throat after 30 years of smoking

throat hair

An Austrian man’s prolonged smoking habit has led to an extraordinarily rare condition known as endotracheal hair growth.

According to a case report published in the American Journal of Case Reports, the 52-year-old man, who had been smoking a pack of cigarettes daily since 1990, began experiencing severe symptoms such as a chronic cough, persistent irritation in the trachea, and a hoarse voice starting in 2006. By 2007, medical examinations revealed an alarming discovery: hair growth inside his throat.

The man first sought medical attention after experiencing a hoarse voice, breathing difficulties, and a stubborn cough. During his examination, doctors found inflammation and several strands of hair growing inside his trachea. Notably, the patient reported having expelled a “5 cm long hair once,” which highlighted the severity of his condition.

An earlier medical history revealed that at the age of 10, the man had undergone a tracheotomy—a surgical procedure to create an opening in the trachea to facilitate breathing. This surgical site was later closed with a skin and cartilage graft from his ear, which became the location for the unusual hair growth.

For the next 14 years, the man underwent annual hospital visits to have the hair removed. His condition, attributed to his long-term smoking habit, persisted until he quit smoking in 2022. A key intervention in his treatment was endoscopic argon plasma coagulation, a procedure that uses heat to destroy the hair cells and prevent further hair growth.

Dr. ChandraVeer Singh, a consultant otorhinolaryngologist at Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road, told The Indian Express that endotracheal hair growth is a rare and poorly understood condition. “This condition involves the abnormal growth of hair in the throat. Long-term exposure to cigarette smoke can damage and irritate the tracheal tissues, potentially transforming stem cells into hair follicles,” Dr. Singh said.

Common symptoms of this condition include breathing difficulties, a sore throat, chronic cough, snoring, and hoarseness of voice. The presence of hair in the trachea can cause significant discomfort and may increase the risk of airway infections.

Treatment for endotracheal hair growth involves several approaches, including endoscopic argon plasma coagulation to burn the hair roots and prevent future growth. In cases where bacterial infection is present, doctors may also prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.

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