HealthCheck

Red-hot spicy snacks send kids to hospital

Monday, November 18, 2013

After weeks of stomach pain, 12-year-old Andy Medina told his mom it was time to see a doctor.

Los Angeles Dr. martha Rivera says she sees dozens of kids like him a week, in pain after eating spicy snacks.

Medina said he has 20-30 bags of Flaming Hot Cheetos a month.

But the 12-year-old never connected his weeks of stomach pain with his snack-time staple.

He says he felt a burning sensation.

"Like if you have a bruise or something.. it really hurts a lot," Medina says.

Rivera says the complaints are especially numerous in Hispanic communities. "We have a population who love to eat the hot spicy not real foods and they come in with these real complaints," she notes.

Several school districts have banned the snacks because they lack nutritional value.

But Dr. Rivera's concern is that the foods change the acidity of the delicate lining of the stomach, causing gastritis.

"Gastritis is an inflammation, erosion or irritation of the lining of the stomach. It can come on gradually or suddenly. symptoms include bloating, burning, vomiting even hiccups," says Dr. Rivera.

"You set up for ulcerations, erosions and so you can set up to peptic ulcer disease in these children," she continues.

Dr. Rivera says problems with these snacks can be painful.

"It hurts. It burns when it goes down it burns when it comes out," she says.

She advises parents to switch out chips for healthier foods such as string cheese, apples and pretzels.

Andrew Medina says he would try to stop eating the red-hot snacks, but it wouldn't be easy.

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