By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
(NEWSER) – He suffered from nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloody stool, and fever for almost three weeks before doctors finally figured out what was wrong. The answer may seem almost funny—but by the time the mystery was solved, it had caused an infection that nearly killed him. What was the problem? The 18-year-old, a professional athlete who was on the road for training with his team at the time, had swallowed a 3-inch toothpick from a sandwich he ate. His case was recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. As the New York Times reports, toothpicks are often swallowed without incident, but a 2014 analysis of 136 serious cases found almost 10% were fatal. The wood picks aren’t affected by stomach acid or digestive enzymes, and they’re hard to see on medical scans.