Eating the world’s hottest chili left a 34-year-old man in hospital with excruciating headaches and neck pain. The unidentified man developed agonizing symptoms after trying the Carolina Reaper during a hot pepper-eating competition in the US. The chili was so powerful it made several arteries in his brain constrict, leaving him with “thunderclap headaches.” Doctors in New York, who treated the patient, have published the case in the prestigious BMJ Case Reports. The Carolina Reaper, which supermarket giant Tesco stocked last summer, is so hot that people are supposed to wear gloves when they handle it. It can come in at nearly 2.2 million on the Scoville scale, which is the measurement used to determine how much punch a chili packs. In comparison, a Jalapeno pepper typically rates between 2,500 and 5,000 units on the scale – around 400 times less than a Carolina Reaper. The man immediately began dry heaving after sampling the chili. Over the following days, he developed intense neck pain and headaches, each of which lasted just a few seconds. The pain was so severe that he sought emergency treatment and he was tested for multiple neurological conditions. But the results all came back negative. However, a CT scan showed several arteries in the man’s brain had constricted and he was diagnosed with reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS). The condition – a temporary artery narrowing often accompanied by thunderclap headaches – can be caused by certain prescription medications or illegal drugs. But doctors said that this is the first time it has been linked with eating chili peppers. The man’s symptoms cleared up on their own and a CT scan five weeks later showed his arteries had returned to their normal width.
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