What are the common causes of chronic indigestion?
This is generally the result of a bad system of feeding, either the prolonged use of improper food or of improper methods of feeding.
Examples of bad methods of feeding are, coaxing or forcing to eat, rapid eating with insufficient mastication eating between meals, allowing a child to have his own way in selecting his food, as when he lives largely upon a single article of diet. Things to be considered under the head of improper food are, indulgence in sweets, desserts, etc., the use of imperfectly cooked foods, especially cereals and vegetables, and of raw or stale fruits.
Is it not true that a diet or a special article of food which does not make a child ill is proof that such a diet or such a food is proper for a child?
By no means; with many people the only guide In feeding children is that the article in question did not make the children sick, therefore it is allowable. This is a very bad principle. A better one is to adopt such a diet as will nourish the child’s body with the least possible tax upon his digestive organs; in other words, to exclude articles which experience has shown to be injurious to most children.
How should chronic indigestion be managed?
This is a much more difficult matter than the treatment of acute indigestion, for, as it is usually the result of the prolonged use of improper food or of an improper method of feeding, a cure can be accomplished only by a discovery and removal of the cause.
Is chronic indigestion curable?
In the vast majority of cases it is so, but only by faithfully observing for a long period the rules for simple feeding laid down elsewhere. One of the greatest’ difficulties in the way of recovery is that parents and nurses are unwilling to follow a restricted diet long enough to secure a complete cure, or to change radically their methods of feeding, but expect the child to recover by simply taking medicine.
For how long a period is it necessary to continue very careful feeding?
In any case it must be done for several months; with most children for two or three years; with some, throughout childhood, for with them the slightest deviation from established rules is sure to provoke a relapse.
Is not medicine useful?
It is undoubtedly of assistance for the relief of some symptoms, but the essential thing is proper feeding, without which nothing permanent can be accomplished.
Bad habits of eating are readily acquired but difficult to break.
Young children should not be allowed to play with their food, nor should the habit be formed of amusing or diverting them while eating, because by these means more food is taken.
Older children should not be permitted to make an entire meal of one thing, no matter how proper this may be.