Man suffers 'thunderclap' headaches after eating world's hottest chilli

Brenda Watkins
April 10, 2018

The Carolina Reaper contains 1,569,300.

His problems began when he ate a whole Carolina Reaper — the hottest pepper in the world, according to Guinness World Records — while participating in hot-pepper-eating competition.

He immediately started experiencing dry heaves — not unknown in the hot-pepper-eating world. "It was so severe, it made him come to the ER".

The hospital isn't identifying the man because of patient confidentiality. CT imaging also ruled out an aneurysm.

Thankfully, the man's symptoms cleared out by themselves, and a subsequent CT scan five weeks later showed that his affected arteries had returned to their normal width.

In the end, doctors diagnosed him with a temporary brain condition called "reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome" (RCVS), characterised by the temporary narrowing of blood vessels to the brain.

Over the following days, he developed "intense" neck pain and headaches, each of which lasted just a few seconds. Sometimes, this condition can occur as a reaction to certain prescription drugs, or to illegal drugs such as cocaine or ecstasy.

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But the underlying cause isn't always life-threatening. She noted that most of her RCVS patients are males who use these supplements. The likelihood of dying from RCVS is very little and most people suffer from recurrent headaches until the condition resolves say the experts. The substance is known to cause constriction of blood vessels in some parts of the body and is even used at low concentrations in some topical medications.

He noted that other teams have already reported two cases of heart attack apparently due to capsaicin, one in a patient taking cayenne pepper capsules for weight loss and another in a patient using a capsaicin patch to treat pain.

But, they point out, this is the first case caused by eating chilli peppers.

Your brain is accompanied by a network of arteries that supply around 750 millilitres of blood every minute. Reached by phone at the PuckerButt Pepper Fort Mill, S.C., the Reapers creator, Ed Currie, offered mixed advice on pepper consumption. For comparison, jalapeños fall in the range of 2,500 and 8,000 SHUs, while ghost peppers (Bhut Jolokia) register at just over 800,000.

The Carolina Reaper, the world's hottest chili pepper. He achieved this accomplishment by consuming 120 grams of the pepper in 60 seconds at the Arizona Hot Sauce Expo in November 2016. Capsaicin is known to influence the sympathetic nervous system.

"For example, in the case of ingestion of pepper, perhaps it is the intense pain triggered by the pepper which triggered the RCVS and not the pepper itself", Ducros added.

A scan showed several arteries in his brain had temporarily narrowed, causing severe episodic "thunderclap" headaches.

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