Though “all-you-can-eat” restaurants are a favorite haunt for outings with friends and family, people should take care not to eat too much and fill their stomachs to bursting, doctors said yesterday, in the wake of a recent case in which a 28-year-old woman suffered acute gastric dilatation from overeating.
The woman, 155cm tall and weighing 44kg, was diagnosed with acute gastric dilatation after going out with friends to an all-you-can-eat hot pot restaurant and spending an-hour-and-a-half eating and drinking to excess.
Acute gastric dilatation occurs when people eat large amounts of food fast, increasing the pressure on the stomach and blocking the pylorus, the area connecting the stomach to the smaller intestines.
While the condition is commonly associated with people with anorexia or bulimia nervosa, it has also affected an increasing number of normally healthy people because of recent changes in eating and drinking habits.
According to Mackay Memorial Hospital Gastroenterology and Hepatology primary care physician Lai Chien-han (賴建翰), an initial physical examination of the woman showed an obvious swelling of the abdomen.
A computed tomography scan revealed that her abdomen had dilated to five times its normal size, extending to her diaphragm and pelvic area while shoving her intestines and liver to the side.
Lai said that abdominal ligaments help sustain a stomach’s size, but once a person overeats, the size of the stomach’s interior would change, with the pylorus region becoming more and more curved, and food that is unable to go down to the small intestine would simply sit there.
Doctors performed emergency nasogastric aspiration — a procedure wherein a tube is inserted through the nose and into the stomach and the contents of the stomach are drained out through the tube — to alleviate the pressure on the woman’s stomach, Lai said.
The procedure took eight hours, with doctors draining out 3 liters of undigested food, he added.
According to Wang Hung-yuan (王鴻元), head of the hospital’s Gastroenterology and Hepatology Department, unless a person with acute gastric dilatation receive nasogastric aspiration immediately or if this process still proved too slow in draining out undigested food, the patient could suffer acute gastric necrosis, gastrorrhexis, or even death.
Given the rising popularity of all-you-can-eat restaurants in recent years, Lai advised people to slow down when eating and to properly chew food before swallowing.
And what’s more important is not to overeat, he said.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer