Man who ate world's hottest chili is hospitalized with excruciating headaches

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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.

After eating a Carolina Reaper pepper, the 34-year-old started dry heaving before developing a pain in his neck that turned into a series of thunderclap headaches: sudden and severe episodes of excruciating pain that peak within a minute.

"Thunderclap" headaches happen by the abrupt tightening of the vessels that take blood to the brain, a condition called reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS).

The patient, who has not been identified, immediately began dry heaving after sampling the chilli, the United States authors said in the paper.

And a CT scan five weeks later showed the affected arteries had returned to their normal width.

The doctors scanned the man's brain and found constricted arteries, which they say was likely due to the ingestion of the Carolina Reaper.

The Reaper has been measured at more than 2 million Scoville heat units, the accepted scale for how hot peppers are.

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The authors of the report advise that RCVS should be considered for patients who experience intense headaches after eating hot peppers, cayenne pepper or any other substance containing high amounts of capsaicin.

It should also be considered if the patient has thunderclap headaches and admits they are a "chilli head".

But despite its name and gnarled appearance, some people still eat these insanely hot chilli peppers for fun - or peer recognition. Dr. Gunasekaran stated that an active ingredient in chili peppers, known as capsaicin, can trigger blood vessel constriction and may have been the main culprit in this case. Sometimes, this condition can occur as a reaction to certain prescription drugs, or to illegal drugs such as cocaine or ecstasy.

"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.

In 2016, a British man, Mark McNeil, then 36, was hospitalised after eating chicken wings doused in a sauce containing Carolina Reaper chillis.

The journal said that there is no particular treatment for the thunderclap headaches. Then they remembered the pepper.

Three competitors, who are not involved in this story or case report, are seen participating in a chili pepper eating competition in Ningxiang, China.