When most people feel sick or constipated for a few days, they probably assume that it is an unreliable meal they have eaten.
Not many jumped to the conclusion that there was a balloon full of water blocking their intestines.
But that's exactly the diagnosis that was given to an 18-year-old man in Australia, and he claimed he did not know how he got there, even though the balloon was tied with a knot.
The unidentified teenager went to the hospital complaining of vomiting, nausea, stomach pain and could not empty his bowels for five days.
The doctors saw that the man had an abnormally high heart rate, a slightly elevated temperature and a swollen belly, so the tests began.
After finding a blockage in the intestine, the surgeons opened his intestine and discovered that a balloon filled with water was blocking his intestine.
The man was discharged after the balloon was removed and he had a scheduled appointment to see a psychiatrist.
When the doctors could not determine what obstructed the small intestine of 18 years, the surgeons decided to operate and discovered a balloon filled with water 4 cm long.
When the 18-year-old man visited the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia, doctors could not determine by CT what was blocking his bowel.
For five days he had been vomiting, had pain in his abdomen and suffered from "absolute constipation", a total inability to defecate.
It was clear that his bowel had been stretched and something was obstructing him, so the surgeons decided to operate, revealed BMJ Case Reports.
They sliced the man's abdomen and removed his small intestine to examine it.
There, they felt a soft, flexible lump 4 cm long that could move inside the intestine and had caused such a "severe" blockage that the other side's bowel had collapsed.
The swelling, the surgeons discovered, was a rubber balloon that had filled with water and seemed to be tied with a knot at the end.
And despite being asked several times, the man could not explain, or did not want to, how the balloon had arrived.
The original scans (computed tomography) did not clearly reveal what was blocking the bowel because the balloon (marked by the arrows) was not as dense as a solid object would be, making it more difficult to detect: some healthy parts of the body show as the same shade of gray
The surgeons pulled the man's small intestine out of his body to examine it, and they felt a small, soft lump that could move, only when they opened the organ did they realize it was a balloon.
The report's author, Dr. Zheng Andrew Zhang, wrote: "The patient has not presented any history of ingestion of foreign bodies in repeated evaluations after the operation."
In the report, the doctors did not speculate on how the balloon got so deep into the man's gut, but they regularly refer to "foreign body ingestion," suggesting that he swallowed it.
They say that it is rare that someone needs surgery to eliminate something they ingested, it is thought to occur in about one percent of cases, and is more common in children between six months and three years.
The 18-year-old was discharged and scheduled for a psychiatric check-up to monitor his mental health.