What grew in a man’s throat after smoking for decades. A rare and shocking complication of smoking

An Austrian man who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for three decades developed an extremely rare medical condition – endotracheal pilosity. Specifically, hairs grew on his neck.

A man grew hairs on his neck after smoking for 30 years – Photo Archive

After smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for 30 years, a man in Austria found hairs growing on his neck. The patient started smoking at the age of 20.

His case was recently reported in the American Journal of Case Reports, where doctors explained that heavy smoking caused severe inflammation in the patient’s throat. These inflammations stimulated stem cells to form hair follicles, which grew inside the man’s airways, the Daily Mail reports.

Symptoms and diagnosis

At the age of 52, the man experienced a hoarse voice, difficulty breathing at night, chronic cough, snoring and other respiratory symptoms. In 2007, when he initially sought medical help, doctors discovered inflammation and crusting in his throat, as well as hairs that had grown abnormally. This was the first sign of his rare condition.

Moreover, the hairs on the neck were covered with bacteria.

When he went to the doctor, the man said that “he coughed up a hair“.

Over the course of 14 years, the man underwent several surgeries to remove hair from his neck. But that didn’t stop him from smoking, and his hair continued to grow. Every year, the man went to the hospital with the same symptoms.

The hair continued to grow until the man quit smoking in 2020. It was only after this time that doctors were able to perform an endoscopic argon plasma coagulation procedure to stop the hair growth, in 2022.

A very rare condition

Prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke inflamed the tissues in the man’s neck, creating an environment conducive to abnormal hair growth. This extremely rare case highlights the serious dangers of smoking to respiratory health. It would be the second case of this kind, say the authors of the report.

“We assume that the onset of hair growth was triggered by the patient’s cigarette smoking habit. (This) may have induced and stimulated endotracheal hair growth. (But) of course, this hypothesis cannot be proven because of the rarity of such cases“, they said.

Endotracheal pilosity is a rare and poorly understood condition, and the case of the Austrian man suggests a direct link between smoking-induced inflammation and hair growth in the throat.