Hot Cheetos May Be to Blame for a Teen’s Emergency Gallbladder Surgery

Gastroenterologist says the number of kids with stomach issues due to spicy snacks is staggering — fruit, anyone?

A Memphis, Tennessee, teenager ended up in emergency surgery recently to have her gallbladder removed — and the probable cause of her distress was shocking: Hot Cheetos.

Her doctor believes the snack food may have been partly to blame for her stomach pain, as San Francisco’s ABC affiliate Channel 7 News reported.

Rene Craighead, 17, estimates she was eating about four bags of different spicy flavored chips every single day.

She developed a pain in her stomach, went to the hospital, and had to have her gallbladder removed.

“She loves them. Every time I go out she says, ‘Bring me back some Hot Takis, bring me back some Hot Chips,’” Craigshead’s mother, also named Rene, told Memphis news station WREG. “I want to make her happy, so I brought them back. She was eating big bags and would take them to school with her.”

“We do see tons of gastritis and ulcer-related stuff due to it [hot spicy snacks],” Dr. Cary Cavender, a gastroenterologist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, told WREG. Noting that there are a lot of factors that go into gallbladder trouble and the decision to remove it, Cavender also said he believes eating the chips probably contributed to Craighead’s need for surgery.

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The number of children they see with stomach issues due to spicy chips is staggering, said the doctor. “We probably see around 100 kids a month, easily.”

The health of the gallbladder, a small organ in the upper abdomen that releases bile into the digestive tract to break down foods — especially fatty foods — shouldn’t be ignored.

“Problems associated with the gallbladder can have a variety of symptoms, depending on the exact condition,” Dr. Manny Alvarez, chairman of the department of obstetrics-gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, wrote in a Fox News piece (Alvarez is also a senior managing health editor for Fox News).

Related: How to Help Your Kids Eat Better (Hint: No Battles Involved)

“However, upper abdominal pain and difficulty digesting fatty foods are good indications of a gallbladder problem,” Alvarez continued. “While you may not need your gallbladder for essential, everyday life, you should look into any problems that you suspect are related to this organ. Then, once you’re cleared by a doctor, you can safely forget about your gallbladder again.”

Symptoms of gallbladder trouble can include pain when inhaling, heartburn, chronic diarrhea, chest pain, and jaundice, to name a few.

Frito-Lay and Takis both released separate statements reassuring the public that their chips are safe to eat — but added the snacks should be enjoyed in moderation.

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