Medicine

World's hottest chilli pepper gives man 'thunderclap' headaches

World's hottest chilli pepper gives man 'thunderclap' headaches

A 34-year-old man landed in the emergency department of a hospital after piercing his teeth into the world's hottest chilli pepper in a chilli-eating competition in New York State because he experienced "thunderclap" headaches as a result and it continued for days. But then scans of his head and neck revealed constriction in some arteries supplying the brain, which can cause intense headaches, the doctors wrote in the journal BMJ Case Reports, published Monday.

It is commonly known as "a thunderclap headache", which was described as a "very severe form of a headache by Gunasekaran and it develops a sudden pain which goes to peak within seconds".

It took five weeks for the patients' blood vessels to return to normal.

RCVS should be considered as a potential cause of thunderclap headache after most common causes are ruled out including subarachnoid haemorrhage, cerebral vein thrombosis, and cervical artery dissection. In addition to the onset of severe thunderclap headaches, which can last up to several weeks, RCVS is known to cause nausea, blurred vision, vomiting, confusion, and difficulty speaking.

When you eat a really hot chili pepper, you end up having pain in your stomach.

In comparison, a Jalapeno pepper typically rates between 2,500 to 5,000 units on the scale - around 400 times less than a Carolina Reaper.

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Eating extremely spicy food may cause much greater discomfort than a burning tongue or watery eyes. "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". It can be a reaction to certain medications, such as anti-depressants, and illicit drugs like ecstasy.

That's never been diagnosed after eating hot peppers before, but Turkish doctors have reported a heart attack in a young man who took cayenne pepper pills.

"It was a big surprise to everyone", said doctor Kulothungan Gunasekaran of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, one of the authors of the article that warns of the dangers of playing with chilli fire.

Doctors say the case report should make other health care providers aware that RCVS can be brought on by eating chili peppers.

The man's symptoms improved without any specific treatment. Then they remembered the pepper. It was, indeed, probably the reason he chose to tackle the fruit at a chilli-eating contest in the first place.

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