NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Doctors and hospitals are reporting a growing number of people, especially kids, showing up complaining of severe stomach aches.
The culprit, they say, are popular snacks with a kick that may be a recipe for trouble. For some, eating too many of some of the hot and spicy snacks is causing a five-alarm fire in their bellies.
“Certain people are more sensitive to spicy food,” Dr. Rabia de Latour, clinical professor at NYU’s Department of Medicine, said.
In September, rapper Lil’ Xan claimed in an Instagram post that he was hospitalized for eating “too many Hot Cheetos.” Across the country, there have been similar reports of teens finding the snacks too hot to handle.
“Anecdotally, a lot of pediatricians and emergency room doctors have commented that they’ve seen children come in having over-indulged on these snack foods,” de Latour said.
Kids complaints range from abdominal pain, to heartburn, to acid reflux, to constipation, or sometimes worse. Rene Craighead believes her 17-year-old daughter’s obsession with eating as many as four bags of Hot Cheetos a day led the teen to having her gallbladder removed.
“This is when you have stones in the bile duct,” de Latour said.
Dr. de Latour says for those with severe reactions, the spice overload more than likely exacerbated a preexisting condition.
“Whether it’s Tabasco sauce, whether it’s Flaming Hot Cheetos, spicy foods can irritate certain people with peptic ulcer disease,” she said.
The makers of the chips stand by the quality and safety of their products, and say the snacks should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet, something de Latour says she couldn’t agree with more.
“None of these foods have actually been proven to cause imminent danger,” she said. “But if you overindulge in anything, even salt, it can cause problems.”
Making the problem worse, some kids are engaging in a spicy snack challenge. Everyone agrees, though, it’s best to stick to eating no more than the recommended serving size.