14-year-old constipated from bubble tea

A picture circulating on social media of a scan showing many unusual spherical shadows in the 14-year-old girl's abdomen.
A picture circulating on social media of a scan showing many unusual spherical shadows in the 14-year-old girl's abdomen.

Consider this fair warning for the bubble tea-obsessed.

A 14-year-old girl in China found herself in hospital after not being able to move her bowels for five days. The girl, who lives in Zhejiang province, had complained of being constipated, was unable to eat, and was suffering from stomach aches.

According to Chinese media reports, her parents finally sent her to the hospital on May 28.

Unable to find the cause of her digestive issues, a computed tomography scan was performed, where doctors found many unusual spherical shadows in her abdomen.

Doctors deduced that the shadows were undigested tapioca pearls - numbering around a hundred - from bubble tea she had consumed.

Initially reluctant to reveal what she ate, the girl finally spilled the beans, but insisted that she only drank a cup of bubble tea five days before the incident.

But Dr Zhang Louzhen, who treated her, suspected she might have been hiding the truth for fear of punishment from her parents. He said that for her condition to be so severe, the teen would have had to ingest a significant amount of pearls for a long period.

The girl was prescribed some laxatives to relieve her constipation.

Another doctor interviewed also warned that bubble tea pearls, or boba, which are made from starch, are hard for the body to digest.

In addition, some stores selling the drink may add thickeners and preservatives to the pearls, and eating such ingredients continuously can lead to gastrointestinal problems.

ASIAONE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2019, with the headline '14-year-old constipated from bubble tea'. Print Edition | Subscribe