A man who took part in a chilli pepper eating contest ended up with more than he bargained for when he took on the hottest pepper in the world.\r\nAfter eating a Carolina Reaper pepper, the 34-year-old started dry heaving before developing a pain in his neck that turned into a series of thunderclap headaches: sudden and severe episodes of excruciating pain that peak within a minute.\r\n\r\n\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Carolina Reaper, which can top 2.2m on the\u00a0Scoville heat scale, was the world\u2019s hottest pepper at the time of the incident in 2016 \u2013 although new breeds called Pepper X and Dragon\u2019s Breath have since reportedly surpassed it.\r\nThe details, published in the\u00a0journal BMJ Case Reports, reveal the pain was so terrible the man went to the emergency room at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, a village in New York State.\r\n\u201c[A thunderclap headache] lasts for a few minutes and it might be associated with dry-heaving, nausea, vomiting \u2013 and then it gets better on its own. But it keeps coming back,\u201d said Dr Kulothungan Gunasekaran of the Henry Ford\u00a0HealthSystem in Detroit, a co-author of the report, adding that thunderclap headaches can be caused by a number of problems including bleeding inside the brain or blood clots.\r\nCT and MRI scans of the man\u2019s brain were taken but showed nothing out of the ordinary. What\u2019s more, the man did not report having any speech or vision problems.\r\nBut when the medical team tried another type of CT scan designed to look at the blood vessels in the brain, they had a surprise. A number of arteries in the brain had narrowed, and as a result the team decided it was a condition known as reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS), which probably caused the thunderclap headache. The diagnosis was backed up by a scan five weeks later showing the arteries had returned to normal. In rare cases, said Gunasekaran, RCVS can cause a stroke.\r\nWhile such narrowing of the blood vessels can be triggered by certain medications or drugs, the team found nothing of the sort when they screened the man\u2019s urine. Instead, they say, it is likely the Carolina Reaper was to blame.\r\nIt\u2019s not the first time chilli peppers have triggered serious repercussions.\r\n\u201cActually, when we were looking at the literature we found a couple of cases similar to our case,\u201d said Gunasekaran.\r\nWeight-loss pills made from another type of chilli pepper\u00a0are believed to have caused a heart attack in a 25-year-old man\u00a0by triggering a sudden narrowing of the coronary artery, and a 33-year-old man died from a heart attack after\u00a0eating a super-hot sauce\u00a0he had cooked up from homegrown chillies.\r\nIn 2016 a 47-year-old man had a brush with death after\u00a0he tore his oesophagus\u00a0by retching and straining after eating pureed ghost pepper.