A 14-year-old girl in China was rushed to the hospital due to a problem with her digestion last month.
On May 28, she was taken to hospital by her parents after five days of problems with her bowels, AsiaOne reports. Doctors initially couldn't find the cause of her digestive issues, but eventually, they found the problem: bubble tea balls.
For those that don't know, the Taiwanese tea drink contains tea, milk, and sugar - but also the addition of popping boba, fruit jelly, and chewy tapioca balls. The drink is very popular in Asia, and has become increasingly popular in specialist stores in the West too. But most of us aren't consuming enough that the tapioca balls are showing up on a CT scan...
The teen, who lives in the Chinese province Zhejiang, was unable to eat and suffered severe stomach aches. After doctors performed a CT scan, they discovered over 100 round shadows in her abdomen - later revealed to be undigested tapioca pearls from bubble tea.
She was initially reluctant to reveal she'd eaten the pearls, claiming that she'd only drank one cup five days before the incident. But given the sheer number of shadows found, the doctor believed she was hiding the truth from her parents. According to Zhang Louzhen, the doctor who treated her, it would take a significant amount of consumption for it to get this bad.
"The little girl may be afraid of her parents, but concealing her medical history," The Paper reports the doctor said (in a rough translation). "So many undigested ‘pearls’ are not accumulated like a cup of milk tea, it should be caused by drinking for a while."
The head of the emergency department at Zhuji City People's Hospital told the publication that bubble tea pearls (which are made out of starch) are difficult to digest. In addition to this, some stores add preservatives and various thickeners to the pearls, which makes them even harder to digest. Continuous consumption of these ingredients can lead to gastrointestinal dysfunction.
Fortunately for the teen, she was prescribed some laxatives to relieve her of constipation and was sent home.