The holiday season is all about friends and family and eating lots and lots of FOOD. As parents, we cringe at all the carbohydrates and alcohol we consume and vow to get back into shape for the new year. Although we know that all the holiday eating will make our pants a little tighter, we don’t necessarily make that connection to our children. The holiday season is always a busy time in the pediatric emergency room. So today we are going to talk about some holiday foods: what’s in them and common food-related issues that could land your child in the emergency room.

All Those Holiday Carbs

Constipation, especially in children, is a HUGE problem during the holiday season, because the holiday season is all about carbohydrates! Bread, cookies, cakes, rice and potatoes are all heavy starches that can lead to constipation that basically clog up our pipes. We see a lot of children that come to the ER with abdominal pain especially after eating all that holiday food. Many people are under the misconception that if your child poops, they can’t be constipated. This is absolutely not true. Signs and symptoms of constipation in children may include:
  • Abdominal pain especially after eating
  • Bowel movements that are hard, dry and difficult to pass
  • Pain while having a bowel movement
  • Nausea
  • 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

Spicy, Fatty & Fried Foods, Oh My!

During the holiday season we eat a lot of foods that can cause gastritis in children. It usually presents with a burning pain in the upper/middle portion of the belly right underneath the sternum. Children might have a difficulty time expressing this type of pain and will more than likely have general complaints of belly pain, nausea, and decreased appetite. Foods that cause gastritis in children include spicy foods, fatty foods, fried foods, chocolate, soda and tomato sauce.

What About Allergies? 

This is a big one. Holiday foods are notorious for having nuts. We see a lot of children with new onset allergies and children that ingested food that they didn’t know had nuts in it. If your child has a food allergy, it is very important that you make sure to ask if there are any ingredients that could potentially result in an allergic reaction. Also, make sure that if you are going to a holiday party, that you 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 even labeling the food so that people are aware of which dishes contain nuts. The quickest way to ruin your party is if one of your guests is rushed in an ambulance to the closest emergency room.

The Infamous Stomach Bug

With so many people traveling during this season, we see a lot of gastroenteritis (a.k.a., the stomach “bug”) in the ER.  This 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 fluid every 10 to 15 minutes and have your child evaluated by a doctor. Signs of dehydration in children include:
  • Dry mouth
  • No tears when crying
  • Decreased urination or lack of urine or wet diapers for 6 to 8 hours in an infant and 12 hours for an older child
  • Increase sleepiness and irritability
  • Fatigue or dizziness in an older child

Abdominal pain is something that needs to be evaluated immediately by a doctor. There are many things that can cause vomiting and abdominal pain. Some that are more serious than others. If your child is having any of these symptoms, please make sure to have him or her evaluated immediately. Hope this helps you with your journey.

Featured Photo Courtesy: nobelgerad via Pixabay