Eating A Carolina Reaper Pepper Sent Someone To The ER For This Scary Condition

Carolina Reaper peppers are no joke. Guinness World Records named the pepper, which was developed in South Carolina, the hottest chili in the world in 2013. The pepper delivers an average of 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units, which is a means of measuring spiciness developed in the early 1900s. For comparison, the mild-mannered jalapeño measures in at as little as 2,500 Scoville Heat Units. And that 1.5 million Scoville Heat Units for the Carolina Reaper pepper is just an average of the peppers tested — some Carolina Reapers have measured in at 2.2 million Scoville Heat Units, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Given that this is one of the hottest peppers on Earth (the Carolina Reaper was surpassed in hotness by the current hottest from the same pepper developer, Pepper X, measured at 3.18 million Scoville Heat Units), it should come as no surprise that sometimes, those who choose to eat it, can get burned. Such is the case of a man in Cooperstown, New York, who was rushed to the emergency room shortly after eating the pepper, due to a scary, pepper-triggered condition.

So what's the scary condition that Carolina Reaper peppers can trigger?

The man's main symptom, according to NPR, was a sudden, intense headache that came, went away, but then came back stronger than ever — so strong that he rushed to the emergency room. CT scans showed narrowing blood vessels in the brain, and the man was admitted to the hospital for what doctors call "thunderclap headaches."

Thunderclap headaches, a doctor told NPR, are a serious emergency. Victims report they feel like "something exploded in their head" or that "they got hit in the back of the head." Thunderclap headaches can be caused by narrowing blood vessels in the brain, but are not usually connected to eating spicy foods; the narrowing of the blood vessels can cause serious issues, such as burst or torn blood vessels.

While the New York man recovered and went on to claim a pepper allergy, what's the moral of this story? While chowing down on a Carolina Reaper, or any other spicy pepper, is unlikely to cause you any serious harm, if you do feel an intense, painful headache coming on after eating one, your safest course of action is to let your doctor know.