Man suffered 'thunderclap' headaches and neck pain after eating world's hottest chilli


A man was left hospitalised with severe thunderclap headaches after eating a "Carolina Reaper", the world's hottest chilli pepper.

The 34-year-old, who was not identified, had eaten just one of the chilies at a chili eating contest in upstate NY. Individual samples have been rated at up to 2.2 million Scoville heat units (SHU), and tests in 2017 rated it at... By comparison a Jalapeño pepper scores 2,500-5,000, while a Scotch Bonnet pepper is ‎100,000-400,000.

Carolina Reapers. I'm feeling hot, hot, hot.

Biting into the "hottest pepper in the world" sounds painful enough.

In a previous case, doctors in California discovered that a man had developed a one-inch hole in his esophagus after eating a ghost pepper, said to be the world's second-most spicy pepper, in a contest (noticing a trend here?). He then developed headaches of epic proportions, and chose to go to the emergency room. Over the next several days, he experienced intense headaches. Such headaches reach their peak within one minute, disappear just as quickly and are often accompanied by nausea or vomiting.

The man did not have any neurological deficits such as slurred speech, muscle weakness or vision loss that would have indicated a stroke.

The new study does suggest that capsaicin, being investigated for its role in alleviating pain and lowering blood pressure, can have unexpected effects on certain people.

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This rare condition is caused by the sudden narrowing of the major blood vessels in the brain.

A CT scan revealed several arteries in his brain had temporarily narrowed, causing the "thunderclap" headaches.

Patients with RCSV tend to recover completely over time, and it's not always clear what causes the recovery in the first place.

There have been two reported cases of heart attacks apparently due to capsaicin - one in a patient taking cayenne pepper capsules to lose weight and another using a capsaicin patch to treat pain, Gunasekaran said.

Sympathetic tone refers to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which also results in the constriction of blood vessels.

"Given the development of symptoms immediately after exposure to a known vasoactive substance, it is plausible that our patient had RCVS secondary to the 'Carolina Reaper, '" the doctors concluded. Researchers think that given the circumstance, it's likely that in this instance, the problem was caused by the chili pepper - but it's hard to be absolutely sure.