Doctors Found Hundreds Of Undigested Bubble Tea Balls Trapped In A Girl's Stomach

Constipation is not fun. But the next time you're trapped on the toilet, praying for some action, keep in mind that it could be much, much worse.

One teenager in China was actually hospitalized for constipation after having severe stomach pains and not being able to poop for five days. Zhu Li, 14, had her stomach scanned and what doctors found might make you rethink your bubble tea habit. Li's doctor, Zhang Louwei, discovered hundreds of undigested tapioca balls from bubble tea that were blocking up her GI tract, The Sun reports.

In case you're not familiar with it, bubble tea is a cold drink usually made with iced tea, sweetened milk, and sweet black balls, or "pearls," that are made from tapioca. (It's become so popular, companies have turned it into decor. Proof: this bubble tea nightlight.)

Li claimed that she only had one cup of bubble tea before her constipation, but her doctor is calling her bluff. "So many undigested tapioca balls can't all be from just one cup," Zhang said. "She must've had quite a few over a short period."

He Yuling, chief of the emergency department where Li sought care, said that tapioca is notoriously hard to digest and "some companies add thickeners such as gelatin to make the balls more 'al dente.'" Yuling also said that "drinking too much bubble tea can easily lead to gastrointestinal dysfunction."

Luckily, Li ended up okay. She was given a prescription for laxatives to help flush out the tapioca balls and sent on her way.


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Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men's Health, Women's Health, Self, Glamour, and more.

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