Spicy snacks send kids to hospital emergency rooms

Nov. 16, 2013 at 10:04 PM
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NEW YORK, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Physicians at U.S. hospital emergency rooms say they are treating more adults and children experiencing stomach ailments after eating bags of spicy snacks.

Dr. Martha Rivera, a pediatrician at White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, told KABC-TV in Los Angeles, she sees between five and six cases daily of children with gastritis -- nausea, upset stomach, abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, vomiting or indigestion.

Some doctors say spicy snack foods may change the pH balance in the stomach, making it painfully acidic.

However, Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said he believes the flavoring coating the chips and snacks is what might be causing the stomach pH to change, rather than just the spiciness of the snacks, ABC News reported.

Glatter said he hasn't had a lot of people coming in doubled over from eating too much spicy salsa.

"In the past, I had not seen any problems with snack food until spicy flavoring became more popular," Glatter said.

Glatter said kids not only like the fat and salt content of snacks, the kids crave the actual burn of the spicy flavoring.

"It's almost like a food addiction. They seek out the burn," Glatter told ABC News. "It's a little thrill-seeking. 'It's like how much can I tolerate?' and I've seen a number of children who eat four or five bags and come in screaming in pain."

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