Wed, Apr 11, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Man hospitalized after eating world’s hottest chili pepper

TOO HOT TO HANDLE:Eating a Carolina Reaper appears to have narrowed the arteries in the man’s brain, causing a series of thunderclap headaches

The Guardian

A man who took part in a chili pepper eating contest ended up with more than he bargained for when he took on the hottest pepper in the world.

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.

The Carolina Reaper, which can top 2.2 million on the Scoville heat scale, was the world’s hottest pepper at the time of the incident in 2016 — although new breeds called Pepper X and Dragon’s Breath have since reportedly surpassed it.

The details, published in the journal BMJ Case Reports, said the pain was so terrible the man went to the emergency room at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, a village in New York State.

“[A thunderclap headache] lasts for a few minutes and it might be associated with dry-heaving, nausea, vomiting — and then it gets better on its own. But it keeps coming back,” said Kulothungan Gunasekaran of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, a co-author of the report.

Thunderclap headaches can be caused by a number of problems, including bleeding inside the brain or blood clots, Gunasekaran added.

Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging scans of the man’s brain were taken, but showed nothing out of the ordinary. What is more, the man did not report having any speech or vision problems.

However, when the medical team tried another type of CT scan designed to look at the blood vessels in the brain, they had a surprise.

A number of arteries in the brain had narrowed and, as a result, the team decided it was a condition known as reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS), which probably caused the thunderclap headache.

The diagnosis was backed up by a scan five weeks later showing the arteries had returned to normal.

In rare cases, RCVS can cause a stroke, Gunasekaran said.

While such narrowing of the blood vessels can be triggered by certain medications or drugs, the team found nothing of the sort when they screened the man’s urine. Instead, they said that it was likely the Carolina Reaper was to blame.

It was not the first time chili peppers have triggered serious repercussions.

“Actually, when we were looking at the literature we found a couple of cases similar to our case,” Gunasekaran said.

Weight-loss pills made from another type of chilli pepper are believed to have caused a heart attack in a 25-year-old man by triggering a sudden narrowing of the coronary artery, and a 33-year-old man died from a heart attack after eating a super-hot sauce he had cooked up from homegrown chilis.

In 2016, a 47-year-old man had a brush with death after he tore his esophagus by retching and straining after eating pureed ghost pepper.

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