Medicine

Hottest chilli gives man a world-record headache

Hottest chilli gives man a world-record headache

Doctors are reporting that an individual was hospitalized with a disorder characterized by severe "thunderclap" headaches and narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain after ingesting the world's hottest chili pepper.

The 34-year-old man told doctors he'd eaten a Carolina Reaper chilli after he presented to the Bassett Medical Center's emergency room, in the U.S. state of NY, with excruciating pain. 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.

He developed neck and head pain after ingesting the chilli, and then the headaches began.

But when they looked at the CT scan of his brain, they realised several arteries in his brain had constricted.

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 Figure A, a CT scan shows narrowed arteries in the brain of a man who ate the world's hottest chili pepper.

The Carolina Reaper was recognised as the hottest chilli in the world in 2013 by Guinness World Records, with a Scoville heat rating of 1.6 million.

"Given the development of symptoms immediately after exposure to a known vasoactive substance [substances that cause constriction of blood vessels], it is plausible that our patient had RCVS secondary to the Carolina Reaper", the authors wrote.

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On at least two (and probably more) occasions, excruciating "thunderclap" headaches would send him reeling.

The Carolina Reaper is a cross between Sweet Habanero and Naga Viper chillies and is known to be the hottest pepper on Earth.

The doctors noted that there are no previous reports of RCSV being caused by eating hot peppers, but there are reports of cayenne pepper causing spasms in blood vessels, as well as heart attacks. But the main takeaway remains - don't mess with extremely hot chili peppers, contest or no contest.

Mr Gunasekaran said the condition has previously been seen as a reaction to certain medications or to illicit drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy.

Gunasekaran said that he and his colleagues would not necessarily tell people to avoid Carolina Reaper peppers.

The man's symptoms cleared up by themselves. Then they remembered the pepper.

In this case, the patient's symptoms improved, and he was released from the hospital after a few days.

According to the study authors, this is the first time that RCVS has been linked to chili peppers.