Have you ever stopped to think about hidden holiday dangers? Sure, we all know the tree can fall over causing injuries or act as kindling in a dangerous fire, and small ornaments can be a choking hazard for little ones, but what about the hidden dangers of holiday foods causing tummy aches in kids?
The holidays are all about friends and family and eating lots and lots of FOOD. As adults, we cringe at all the carbohydrates and alcohol we consume and vow to get back into shape in the New Year. Although we know holiday eating will make our own pants a little tighter, we don’t always think about how holiday foods will affect our children.
In fact, the holiday season is a pretty busy time in the pediatric emergency room. Stomach issues run rampant and are one of the main causes for ER visits for children. So let’s talk about a few of these hidden holiday dangers that cause children to end up in the ER.
Constipation is a HUGE problem during the holiday season. Holiday foods are all about carbohydrates! Bread, cookies, cakes, rice, and potatoes are all heavy starches that can lead to constipation. They basically clog up our pipes! We see a lot of children in the ER with abdominal pain, especially after eating holiday foods. Many people believe if a child poops, he or she can’t possibly be constipated. This common misconception is absolutely not true.
Signs and symptoms of tummy aches in kids caused by constipation may include the following:
- Abdominal pain, especially after eating
- Bowel movements that are hard, dry, and difficult to pass
- Pain while having a bowel movement
- Traces of liquid or clay-like stool in your child’s underwear (a sign that stool is backed up in the rectum)
- Blood on the surface of hard stool
During the holiday season, we eat a lot of foods that can cause gastritis in children. Gastritis usually presents with a burning pain in the upper/middle portion of the belly right underneath the sternum. Children might have a difficult time expressing this type of pain and will more likely have general complaints of belly pain, nausea, and decreased appetite. Mylicon recently released a children’s line that combines an antacid and antigas in one chewable tablet. I love that it can quickly soothe tummy aches in kids due to bloating, gas, and also fight pain from acid indigestion at same time.
Foods that cause gastritis in children include the following:
- Spicy foods
- Fatty foods
- Fried foods
- Tomato sauce
3. Food Allergies
This hidden holiday danger is a BIG one. Holiday foods are notorious for containing allergens, such as nuts. Every year in the ER, we see a lot of children with new onset allergies and children who ingested foods they didn’t know contained nuts, dairy, or eggs. If your child has a food allergy, it is very important for you to ask someone who prepared the food if there are any ingredients that could potentially cause an allergic reaction. Also, if you are going to a holiday party, make sure to bring your child’s EpiPen with you. If you are hosting, make sure to ask your guests if anyone has a specific food allergy and consider labeling foods, so people are aware of which dishes contain those allergens. The quickest way to ruin your party is for one of your guests to be rushed by ambulance to the closest emergency room.
4. Food Poisoning or Stomach Bug
With so many people traveling during the holidays, we see a lot of gastroenteritis (a.k.a. the stomach “bug”) in the ER. Gastroenteritis generally presents with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes fever. If your child gets food poisoning or gastroenteritis, the most important thing is HYDRATION. You should promote small amounts of fluids every 10-15 minutes and have your child evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible.
Signs of Dehydration in children include the following:
- Dry mouth
- No tears when crying
- Decreased urination – lack of urine or wet diapers for 6 to 8 hours in an infant and 12 hours or more for an older child
- Increased sleepiness and irritability
- Fatigue or dizziness in an older child
5. Gas and Bloating
Gas can be incredibly painful, sending many parents to the emergency room worried about the sharp and persistent nature of their child’s belly pain. These pains occur when gas gets trapped or doesn’t move well through your digestive system.
But gas relief for kids doesn’t have to be difficult to manage. Many tummy aches in kids can be treated at home. If you think your child is suffering from gas pain, try Children’s Mylicon. This over-the-counter medication is safe and effective for children ages 2-11. It works directly in the digestive tract by breaking down the surface of gas bubbles. If you’ve tried Mylicon, but your child’s pain continues, you should have them evaluated by a doctor.
Final Thoughts on Holiday Tummy Aches in Kids
Abdominal pain is no fun at a minimum and possibly something that needs to be evaluated by a doctor. Many different ailments can cause vomiting and abdominal pain, and some of these issues are more serious than others. If your child is having any of the symptoms listed above, please have him or her evaluated immediately.
Has your child experienced any of these holiday hidden dangers? Comment below with your stories, questions, or tips about holiday tummy aches in kids.