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Man develops severe 'thunderclap' headaches after eating world's hottest chili pepper

His pain was so intense that he sought emergency care

Date:
April 9, 2018
Source:
BMJ
Summary:
Taking part in a hot chili pepper eating contest might have some unexpected consequences, highlight doctors in a recent case study.
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Taking part in a hot chilli pepper eating contest might have some unexpected consequences, highlight doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

Their warning comes after a young man ended up in emergency care with excruciatingly painful episodic headaches after eating a 'Carolina Reaper,' the world's hottest chilli pepper.

His symptoms started immediately after he had eaten the chilli, with dry heaves. But he then developed severe neck pain and crushingly painful headaches, each of which lasted just a few seconds, over the next several days.

His pain was so severe that he sought emergency care, and was tested for various neurological conditions, the results of which all came back negative.

But a CT (computed tomography) scan showed that several arteries in his brain had constricted, prompting doctors to diagnose him with thunderclap headache secondary to reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS).

RCVS is characterised by temporary artery narrowing often accompanied by thunderclap headache. It doesn't always have an obvious cause, but can occur as a reaction to certain prescription meds, or after taking illegal drugs.

This is the first case to be associated with eating chilli peppers, explain the authors, although they point out that eating cayenne pepper has been linked to sudden constriction of the coronary artery and heart attacks.

"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, write the authors.

The man's symptoms cleared up by themselves. And a CT scan 5 weeks later showed that his affected arteries had returned to their normal width.


Story Source:

Materials provided by BMJ. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Satish Kumar Boddhula, Sowmya Boddhula, Kulothungan Gunasekaran, Edward Bischof. An unusual cause of thunderclap headache after eating the hottest pepper in the world – “The Carolina Reaper”. BMJ Case Reports, 2018; bcr-2017-224085 DOI: 10.1136/bcr-2017-224085

Cite This Page:

BMJ. "Man develops severe 'thunderclap' headaches after eating world's hottest chili pepper." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180409185313.htm>.
BMJ. (2018, April 9). Man develops severe 'thunderclap' headaches after eating world's hottest chili pepper. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 21, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180409185313.htm
BMJ. "Man develops severe 'thunderclap' headaches after eating world's hottest chili pepper." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180409185313.htm (accessed July 21, 2024).

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