As part of personal hygiene and sometimes vanity, people had been flooding to hair centres and beauty salons to get their crowns taken care of. For individuals who do this regularly, it may never occur to them that harm can actually happen within the walls of these beauty centres. But is there any possibility, even less than one per cent, that you can die while inside these centres?
While it may sound ominous, there is a rare syndrome called the stroke syndrome that can strike at any time, even when you're relaxing and as simple as having a haircut.
I don’t think it’s an accurate description to call it salon stroke syndrome, but there is a part when you're getting your hair care when you end up stretching your neck for your hair to be washed at the washbasin. Too much and wanton disregard for procedures can actually lead to a reduced blood supply to the brain which then leads to stroke.
This might not be a common scenario but there is a group of causes that cause the actual medical condition known as dissection of the vertebral artery from excessive stretching of the neck
The name is indeed a lot less catchy but sure is still scary. Some movements or pressures on the neck can lead to a rupture of the vertebral artery that supplies blood to the brain. From there, the blood enters (and thus thickens) the artery wall, causing a blood clot, thereby blocking blood flow and potentially causing a stroke.
This is a phenomenon that is not fully understood, but it can occur as a result of a variety of harmless activities. Not just washing your hair, but getting out of bed in the wrong way in the morning, stretching your body and even sneezing!
I am not here to scare people, it is very rare, we do not worry about it, especially since it is very unlikely and there is nothing you can do to prevent it either. Someone might ask and say for instance: Why not put extra towels under one’s neck in the salon maybe it will help?! The answer is that while one can be safe in the salon this can also happen while getting up in the morning.
One may then ask, is neck pain a symptom of a vertebral artery dissection or rupture? Perhaps we are all aware that it is unlikely to be the dominant or the only one, especially since neck pain can be caused by a large number of causes, as such it is not a cause for concern. Even more worrying are the other more common symptoms of stroke, for example, facial slackness, severe headache accompanied by nausea or vomiting, paralysis on one side of the body, loss of coordination or loss of vision. If any of these symptoms are felt, one should go to the emergency department of any health institution.
In the end, there is not much that can be done to prevent such a condition and you are most certainly likely not at greater risk in the hair caring salon (or barber) than you are in your bed.
Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla is a physician, medical innovator and a writer.