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Normally when you go to get your hair cut, the worst thing that can happen is a bad dye job or a terrible ‘do. One woman, 48 year old Elizabeth Smith, found out the hard way that that could be just the start of your problems. A few days after getting a shampoo and cut at her salon, Elizabeth reported feeling dizzy, lightheaded, and weak, right before being rushed to a hospital emergency room where she learned she had just suffered from a stroke. The cause? Doctors allegedly told her that her shampoo at the salon could have been to blame.

It might seem like an unusual or extremely rare case, but apparently strokes caused by over-extending your neck while getting your hair washed is common enough that it even has a name: beauty parlour stroke syndrome. While it generally affects younger people, anyone can be at risk. The problem happens when the neck has to be hyperextended for a prolonged period of time in a way that could cut off circulation or cause a clot to develop in one of the four main arteries that feed the brain. Despite being associated with beauty parlors, it can also happen to people playing tennis, doing yoga, or seeing a chiropractor.

In recent years, as beauty parlor stroke syndrome has become more widely reported and recognized, some advocates and doctors have called for changing the way hair gets shampooed at salons. Since the main culprit is hyperextension, keeping the neck in a “neutral position” is the best way to prevent risk. That may be difficult, however, as it would require completely rethinking the way shampooing stations at hair salons are set up. In the meantime, doctors warn that symptoms of a potential oncoming stroke include acute neck pain and dizziness, and that if you feel these symptoms for a prolonged period of time after a shampoo, you would do well to consult a medical professional.

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