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American Man Hospitalised After Eating The World's Hottest Chilli Pepper

Tom Wood

| Last updated 

American Man Hospitalised After Eating The World's Hottest Chilli Pepper

An American man has been left in hospital after eating the world's hottest chilli pepper during a contest in New York State.

The 34-year-old was taken to hospital after suffering from 'thunderclap' headaches brought on by eating a Carolina Reaper chilli.

These types of headaches are incredibly painful and happen when the vessels that carry blood to the brain tighten quickly and suddenly - it is also known as reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS).

The man started to struggle immediately after he ate the chilli, which measures in at 1,641,183 Scoville Units (SHU - the scale on which the heat of a chilli pepper is judged).

That's really hot, by the way. To put it into context, a regular jalapeno pepper measures between 2,500 to 8,000 SHU.

Over the following days he suffered from neck pain and short, but incredibly painful headaches. He was in such pain that he visited a hospital's emergency department where he was tested for a load of neurological conditions.

Luckily for him, all of the tests they performed came back negative. However, it was noticed during his CT scan that showed that several arteries in his brain had constricted - which would explain the headaches.

There is no real known cause for RCVS, but it has previously been found to have been caused by illegal drugs and some prescription medication. It's thought that this is the first time it has been brought on by chilli peppers.

The good news is that the man's symptoms cleared away themselves and a CT scan a few weeks after the event showed that all of his brain's arteries were back to their normal size.

Credit: Richard Elzey/Flickr
Credit: Richard Elzey/Flickr

RCVS generally sorts itself out after a while and returns to normal but there have been more severe cases in which the arteries have become so badly constricted that a stroke has occurred. These cases are very rare, however.

It's worth bearing in mind if you plan to eat really hot chilli peppers. It's particularly worth remembering if you plan to enter a chilli eating contest.

Dr Kulothungan Gunasekaran, from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and the author of a report into RCVS, said: "We would not advise against eating Carolina Reaper at this time, but we would recommend the general public be cautious about these adverse effects and we advise that they should seek medical attention immediately if they develop sudden onset headache after eating hot peppers."

Spicy food is very unlikely to kill you, but you'd have to suspect that this guy will be ordering a korma next time he goes for a curry, either way.

Featured Image Credit: Flickr/Sashimomura

Topics: Food, News, US News, New York

Tom Wood
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