Published: 05/04/2016 - Updated: 04/13/2017
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Gastritis is a condition that usually involves inflammation of the stomach mucus, i.e. inflammation of the stomach due to different causes. Nowadays it affects many adults, however, this condition can also occur in children much more often than we might expect.
Gastritis has been linked to infection with helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that can be acquired by eating food that has not been properly handled. Other causes of infant gastritis are stress, use and abuse of certain medications such as analgesics, and bad feeding habits.
Symptoms of Gastritis
Symptoms of gastritis in children differ very little from adult symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Burning sensation in the stomach or above the navel
- Fullness without eating
- Refusal of food, especially in the morning
- Reflux or heartburn
- Nausea and vomiting
It is very important that if a child has these symptoms, he or she is evaluated by an expert for the correct diagnosis of the disease or condition.
Recommendations to relieve gastritis
Gastritis is not considered a disease but a condition, so here are some recommendations that may help combat and alleviate the symptoms.
Respect food schedules: If a child is fed haphazardly, he or she may develop gastritis as a result. It is recommended to include three mealtimes per day and two light snacks between meals, ie 5 daily food intakes. Between each food intake, it is also advisable to serve them at a maximum of 4 to 5 hours apart, beginning at breakfast right through until dinner. Correct food intake times can significantly improve symptoms of gastritis and often solve the problem. You are advised to avoid prolonged fasting whenever possible, as it is very important to try to eat breakfast: Even something light to break the prolonged fasting that has occurred overnight.
Control Stress: Stress is currently affects a great portion of the world’s population, but we forget that children can also suffer from stress. From work tasks that they find difficult to any family or other stressful situation, all of these may affect a child emotionally, overwhelming him/her and causing stress. Gastritis may manifest as a result. It is advisable that parents discuss the situation and determine if they believe their child is going through a stressful period or not. Often a professional evaluation is recommended and can help you as parents to make an informed decision. Children and adults can reduce their stress by walking or taking part in another sport which they enjoy, as well as recreational activities. However, you must also ensure that get enough rest and good food at mealtimes.
Helicobacter Pylori: Although a Helicobacter pylori infection in children may go unnoticed, it is advisable to pay attention to the symptoms of heartburn and gastritis, as it requires treatment and monitoring to eradicate.
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Poor eating habits: Unfortunately , the modern diet includes many foods that are rich in flavour, as well as modified and saturated fats, and other irritants that can affect our stomach. It is important that children have quality food on offer to them that includes all food groups in a balanced diet. Try to avoid frequent consumption of fatty foods, industrial bakery products (cookies, cakes, etc.), fried foods, ice cream and candy.
Prohibited food and Further Recommendations
The diet is very important both to prevent symptoms and to improve a crisis of gastritis.
Try to avoid the following foods:
- Breaded and fried foods or those high in fat or oil.
- Processed foods such as sausages, pastries, fried foods.
- Irritating foods that are rich or spicy in flavour (garlic, onion, pepper, etc.).
- Carbonated drinks and drinks with caffeine or chocolate.
- Citrus fruits *These can occasionally cause discomfort but not always, so approach with caution.
- Junk food with additives.
Finally, it is important to find a relationship between symptoms and foods so you can detect foods that are causing discomfort to your child, because each individual is different. Some people may exhibit symptoms of gastritis as a reaction to one specific food which other people with gastritis can tolerate normally.
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Furthermore some foods are desirable, such as:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, except cauliflower, onion, pepper, cabbage and those that cause inflammation and flatulence.
- Vegetable oils such as olive oil or sesame oil (In moderation and preferably raw).
- Natural water or natural fruit juice. If the juice is citrus-derived, it can be diluted to aid tolerance.
- Probiotic yogurt, i.e. Yoghurt with live cultures of bacteria, and other low-fat dairy in moderation.
- Lean meats: Meat with little to no fat such as chicken, fish, or lean cuts of red meat.
- Low-fat cured/cooked meats, such as turkey ham, but only in moderation.
- Legumes: Preferably soaked in water hours before cooking
- Cereals: Rice and potatoes, among others are recommended to relieve heartburn provided they are not spicy.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 04/13/2017
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