Extremely Hot Chili Triggers Brain Condition

Man ended up in the hospital after chili-eating contest
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2018 3:44 AM CDT
Man Needed Brain Scans After Chili-Eating Contest
The Carolina Reaper.   (Getty Images)

Some extremely hot chili peppers can cause a lot of discomfort. The Carolina Reaper can put you in a medical journal. A study published in the BMJ looks at the case of a 34-year-old man who developed "thunderclap headaches" after consuming just one of the incredibly hot peppers at a chili-eating contest, reports the Guardian. Researchers say the man suffered dry heaves immediately after consuming the Reaper—which scores an intimidating 1.6 million on the Scoville scale versus 5,000 for a jalapeno—and went to the emergency room a few days later because he was having very short but incredibly painful headaches. "It started all of a sudden as severe pain in the back of the neck and then spread to all over the head," study author Dr. Kulothungan Gunasekaran tells CBS. "That's typical of a thunderclap headache."

After several brain scans, the doctors determined that the man's headaches were being caused by a condition called reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome, or RCVS, which involves the narrowing of the arteries. It can occur without any apparent cause or be triggered by medication or illegal drug use, but in this case, the researchers determined that it was the first known case to be caused by chili peppers. The man's arteries returned to normal within five weeks and there were no lasting effects, but since RCVS can lead to strokes in rare cases, researchers say anybody experiencing similar symptoms after eating hot chilis should seek medical attention. (There is a chili even hotter than the Carolina Reaper, but the creator of the Dragon's Breath says nobody has ever swallowed it.)

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