Summary: A new study in BMJ Case Reports warns of the unexpected consequences of participating in hot chili pepper eating contests.
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.
Source: Caroline White – BMJ
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Dale Thurber. Licensed CC BY SA 3.0.
Original Research: Abstract for “An unusual cause of thunderclap headache after eating the hottest pepper in the world – “The Carolina Reaper”” by Satish Kumar Boddhula, Sowmya Boddhula2, Kulothungan Gunasekaran, and Edward Bischof in BMJ Case Reports. Published April 9 2018,
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]BMJ “Man Develops Severe ‘Thunderclap’ Headaches After Eating World’s Hottest Chili Pepper.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 10 April 2018.
<https://neurosciencenews.com/chili-pepper-headache-8755/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]BMJ (2018, April 10). Man Develops Severe ‘Thunderclap’ Headaches After Eating World’s Hottest Chili Pepper. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved April 10, 2018 from https://neurosciencenews.com/chili-pepper-headache-8755/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]BMJ “Man Develops Severe ‘Thunderclap’ Headaches After Eating World’s Hottest Chili Pepper.” https://neurosciencenews.com/chili-pepper-headache-8755/ (accessed April 10, 2018).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
An unusual cause of thunderclap headache after eating the hottest pepper in the world – “The Carolina Reaper”
A 34-year-old man with no significant medical history presented to the emergency room (ER) after an episode of thunderclap headache. His symptoms began with dry heaves but no vomiting immediately after participation in a hot pepper contest where he ate one ‘Carolina Reaper,’ the hottest chili pepper in the world. He then developed intense neck and occipital head pain that became holocephalic. During the next few days, on at least two occasions and in retrospect he thought probably more often, he experienced brief intense thunderclap headaches lasting seconds. The pain was excruciating and thus he came to the ER. He denied any focal tingling sensation or weakness, slurred speech, or transient loss of vision. Physical examination revealed blood pressure of 134/69 mm Hg and no neurological deficits. Urine drug screen and non-contrast CT head and neck were unremarkable. CT angiography revealed no aneurysm but demonstrated unexpected multifocal luminal narrowing in the left supraclinoid internal carotid artery, M1 segment of bilateral middle cerebral arteries, and P1 segments of bilateral posterior cerebral arteries consistent with vasospasm. A presumptive diagnosis of thunderclap headache secondary to reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS) was made based on the clinical presentation of a severe acute headache, exclusion of aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage, and segmental cerebral arterial vasoconstriction on CT angiography. Our patient’s symptoms improved with supportive care, he had no further thunderclap headaches, and repeat CT angiography 5 weeks later demonstrated resolution of luminal narrowing consistent with RCVS .