He Ate the World’s Hottest Pepper, Then Landed in the Hospital With ‘Thunderclap’ Headaches
If you eat a really hot pepper, you expect pain. A lot of pain.
In addition to the feeling that you have just put a live coal in your mouth, you may weep, vomit and wonder where in your life you took a wrong turn.
You don’t expect a headache so intense and immediate that it sends you to the emergency room. But that’s what happened to a 34-year-old man who turned up at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, N.Y., with what clinicians call a thunderclap headache.
你想不到，吃辣椒还有可能很快产生剧烈的头痛，能把人送进急诊室。但这就是一名来到纽约库珀斯敦巴塞特医疗中心(Bassett Medical Center)求医的34岁男子的遭遇，临床医生称之为雷击头痛。
His problems began when he ate a whole Carolina Reaper — the hottest pepper in the world, according to Guinness World Records — while participating in a hot-pepper-eating competition.
他在参加一个吃辣椒比赛时，吃下了一整只“卡罗来纳死神”(Carolina Reaper)——根据吉尼斯世界纪录(Guinness World Records)，这是世界上最辣的辣椒——之后，麻烦就开始了。
He immediately started experiencing dry heaves — not unknown in the hot-pepper-eating world. But then a pain in his neck and head came on like … a thunderclap.
It passed, but over the next few days he experienced more thunderclap headaches — that’s the clinical term — so he sought medical attention.
Scans of his head and neck showed the kind of constriction in some arteries that can cause intense headaches, doctors reported on Monday in BMJ Case Reports. The scientific term for this temporary narrowing of arteries is reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome.
周一，医生在《英国医学期刊病例报告》(BMJ Case Reports)上称，对他头部和颈部的扫描显示出某些动脉出现了会引发剧烈头痛的紧缩。动脉的这种暂时性收缩在科学术语中称为可逆性脑血管收缩综合征。
Dr. Kulothungan Gunasekaran, one of the report’s authors, now at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, said that for some reason the man must have been particularly sensitive to capsaicin. The Carolina Reaper is a popular pepper, and many people eat them and experience nothing worse than the desire to cut out their own tongues.
该报告的作者之一库洛桑格·古南西卡兰博士(Dr. Kulothungan Gunasekaran)现在底特律的亨利·福特医院(Henry Ford Hospital)工作，他表示，出于某种原因，这个男子肯定是对辣椒素尤其敏感。卡罗来纳死神是一种很受欢迎的辣椒，有许多人在吃，感觉至多就是想要割掉自己的舌头。
“I was discussing the case with a nurse who had eaten three Carolina Reapers,” Dr. Gunasekaran recalled.
The Reaper has been measured at more than two million Scoville heat units, the accepted scale for how hot peppers are. Measurements vary, but a really hot habanero might come in at 500,000 Scoville units.
The patient was fine, with no lingering damage, but thunderclap headaches are not to be dismissed. For one thing, there’s the pain, which seems to surpass even the normal effect of the peppers.
Dr. Lawrence C. Newman, a neurologist and director of the headache division at NYU Langone Health, said, “On a one to ten scale, it’s off the charts.” And it can indicate the kind of stroke that results from bleeding in the brain.
纽约大学朗格尼医学中心(NYU Langone Health)头痛部主任、神经学家劳伦斯·C·纽曼博士(Dr. Lawrence C. Newman)表示，“按一到十的等级，它爆表了”。它有可能预示由大脑出血而导致的中风。
It happens instantaneously. If that kind of headache hits you, it makes sense to seek medical attention “whether you’ve bitten into a pepper or not,” Dr. Newman said.
The new study does suggest that capsaicin, being investigated for its role in alleviating pain and lowering blood pressure, can have unexpected effects on certain people.
Cayenne pepper pills and a capsaicin patch, sold in China and Turkey, have been blamed in medical reports for two nonfatal heart attacks in young men, the result of spasms in arteries.
But “we are not advising anything against the Carolina Reaper,” Dr. Gunasekaran said.
The Reaper was bred to reach record levels of heat. Reached by phone at the PuckerButt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, S.C., the Reaper’s creator, Ed Currie, offered mixed advice on pepper consumption.
On the one hand, he said, “People who eat whole Reapers are just being stupid.” But Smokin’ Ed, as he calls himself, also gave the impression that wasn’t such a bad thing. “We eat them all the time,” he said, with no ill consequences beyond pain.
Mr. Currie indulges in other competitions of suffering. For instance, he said, he had recently taken the Death Nut Challenge, which involves eating insanely hot peanuts. He has a partnership with a company that produces them.
“I knew beforehand I shouldn’t do it,” Mr. Currie said. “I was in pain for two hours.”
For the average person interested in spice, not suffering, he advised using small amounts of any really hot pepper in food preparation, as they were intended.
So if you happen to go beyond your limits — having, say, entered a hot-pepper-eating competition?
“Citric acid seems to work the best to alleviate the pain,” he said. “Don’t chug milk because you’ll just throw it up.”