Competitive eater hospitalised by chilli


According to a new case study in The British Medical Journal, a 34-year-old man from NY did just that during a hot pepper eating contest - and ended up in hospital.

When the 34-year-old man made a decision to participate in a hot-pepper-eating challenge, he surely knew he was signing up for some tongue punishment.

A computed tomography (CT) scan revealed that several arteries in the patient's brain had constricted, and he was diagnosed with reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS).

Suffering multiple bouts of skull-crushing headaches, the man had to go through neck pain and dry heaving for days.

Thunderclap headaches are essentially severe headaches that reach maximum intensity after only a few seconds or a couple of minutes at most.

Thankfully, the man's symptoms cleared out by themselves, and a subsequent CT scan five weeks later showed that his affected arteries had returned to their normal width.

Dr. Aneesh Singhal of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston was the first to describe RCVS, in 2001, in a patient who developed thunderclap headaches after eating red hot peppers.

Given that the man developed the symptoms after consuming a vasoactive substance, the doctors concluded that eating the Carolina Reaper could have been the reason he developed RCVS.

In 2016, a British man, Mark McNeil, then 36, was hospitalised after eating chicken wings doused in a sauce containing Carolina Reaper chillis.

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Eating super-hot chili peppers can have painful effects that extend beyond a blazing mouth, doctors warn.

Usually RCVS is caused by reactions to medications or illicit drugs.

Carolina Reaper peppers are too darn hot for their own good, one food contestant learned.


This rare condition is caused by the sudden narrowing of the major blood vessels in the brain.

Dr Kulothungan Gunasekaran, at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, who wrote the report, said people need to be aware of these risks, if eating the chilli.

"No cases of RCVS secondary to peppers or cayenne have been previously reported", he said, "but ingestion of cayenne pepper has been associated with coronary vasospasm and acute myocardial infarction", he added.

The man's symptoms improved within days. He had no further thunderclap headaches.

Effectively, the Scoville Scale reflects the concentration of capsaicin, a neuropeptide-releasing agent found in all members of the pepper family.

It's not the first time chilli peppers have triggered serious repercussions.