Man develops thunderclap headaches after eating Carolina Reaper, world's hottest pepper

Man Develops Severe 'Thunderclap' Headache After Eating the Hottest Chilli Pepper in the World

Since 2013, Carolina Reapers have held the Guinness World Record for the world's hottest chili pepper.

"His symptoms began with dry heaves but no vomiting immediately after participation in a hot pepper contest where he ate one "Carolina Reaper", Dr Kulothungan Gunasekaran of the Bassett Medical Center in NY said in the report.

The CT scan revealed that several arteries of his brain had severely constricted, prompting the diagnosis of thunderclap headache secondary to reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS). This particular pepper is considered the hottest chili pepper in the world, according to the report, published today (April 9) in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

Suffering multiple bouts of skull-crushing headaches, the man had to go through neck pain and dry heaving for days.

In the following days, he developed "intense" neck pain and headaches and was tested for neurological conditions. A CT scan showed that numerous arteries in his brain had constricted and he was diagnosed with RCVS. This condition is characterized by a temporary narrowing of the arteries accompanied by a thunderclap headache.

Repeat CT angiography five weeks later found the man's arteries had returned to normal.

The Reaper has been measured at more than 2 million Scoville heat units, the accepted scale for how hot peppers are. Thunderclap headaches are severe, sudden, with quick pains that strike like a clap of thunder rumbling through your skull. It's been known to happen with medicines such as antidepressants and certain decongestants, as well with illicit drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, the doctors wrote. "Capsaicin, the key ingredient in the pepper, is a vasoactive substance, so it could potentially narrow the blood vessels to the most important organs like the heart and brain", he added.

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If you eat a really hot pepper, you expect pain.

"We would recommend the general public be cautious when eating chilli peppers and to seek medical attention straight away if you develop symptoms like this", Gunasekaran warned.

Previously eating cayenne pepper has been linked to sudden constriction of the coronary artery.

The 34-year-old had eaten just one of the chillies at a chilli eating contest.

The patient was fine, with no lingering damage, but thunderclap headaches are not to be dismissed.

No, Professor Parsons said: "This is the first time it's been reported from eating chilli, and a lot of people in a lot of cultures consume a lot of chilli, so it must be pretty rare".

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