You know the feeling: you’re bent over on the toilet, your stomach doubling down with pinching pain as you frantically try to get the remainder of everything you ate last night out of your system, and your mind goes blank because all you can concentrate on is how much it hurts to squeeze it all out. That’s kinda what happened to this Hong Kong woman, except she also lost ten years’ worth of memories when her poop finally popped out.
According to Chinese newspaper Sky Post, an unnamed woman strained so hard that shit hit the fan and she suffered from temporary amnesia for about eight hours. Concerned that she suddenly couldn’t remember anything from the last decade, her family took her to the hospital. According to her son, she had been suffering from constipation for a while now and had a ‘mental blackout’ because of it. But after spending the night at the hospital, she woke up with all her memories mysteriously and thankfully restored. She didn’t even realise that this had happened and had no recollection of the dramatic scare she had caused.
Hong Kong-based neurologist Dr Peng Jiaxiong attributes this incident to something defined in medical terms as ‘transient global amnesia’. This happens when blood flow and oxygen to the brain is compromised by the jugular vein valve. He also said that such occurrences usually happen when people are highly emotional or frequently carry heavy objects, putting them at a higher risk of temporary amnesia.
Science blog IFLScience says that excessive straining can sometimes cause a condition called ‘vasovagal syncope’, which basically means you faint and lose consciousness. This is similar to something known as the “weight-lifters’ blackout,” where it’s not uncommon to lose consciousness temporarily if you strain too hard, or hyperventilate due to a sharp spike in heart rate and blood pressure. The sudden drop that follows often results in a temporary reduction of blood flow to the brain.
Something similar also happened to a 58-year-old man in Taiwan in 2016, who woke up with transient global amnesia after being constipated the night before. According to his neurologist, he was also in an intense emotional state after watching a heated political talk show.
We know constipation can be a pretty shitty thing and even have deadly consequences sometimes. But does this mean constipation can like actually cause amnesia? These incidents are rare but according to a doctor who spoke to The Sun, this temporary loss of memory can also lead to bleeding in the brain and cause a stroke. According to Nursing Times, this rare episode of memory loss can also be caused by having sex, heavy physical exercise like swimming in icy water, migraines/fits, physical or emotional stress, or driving a car.
But it’s better to be safe than sorry, so make sure you load up on all that fibre, kids, because shit happens.
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This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.