• Postpartum Chiropractic Care

    10 February 2017
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    Giving birth is an intense experience in which the body pushes itself, causing stress and pains to the mother that can last well after the baby arrives. Even if no immediate pain is felt, there is still need for chiropractic care during the postpartum period.

    I often explain to my clients that after having a baby, the body needs time and help to reach its full potential again. So many women complain about things never being the same, or that back, hip, pelvic, or wrist pain intensifies instead of dissipating. Considering all the body has been through during pregnancy: the hips widening, additional weight being carried, a postural shift, hormonal changes, and other ailments, it is easy to understand that the body may be out of alignment. When you then add hours of contractions, pushing, and birth into the equation, it’s clear that one of the first trips out of the house after having your baby should be to the chiropractor.

    Did you know?

    A woman’s pelvic biomechanics can be altered during birth. As the baby descends, especially if he is posterior (sunny-side-up), the bones of the pelvis can shift and become misaligned.
    Chiropractic care can manipulate the pelvic bones, restoring balance and comfort.

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    Throughout the last few weeks of pregnancy that lead to labor, the following occurs:
    • Hormones work to soften the ligaments between the bones in your pelvis which allows for the pelvis to shift, granting additional room for the birth. This can cause soreness in some women. These hormones are not only released to the pelvic region, but the entire body is affected. This means that all ligaments have the opportunity to become looser, weaker, or less effective. This puts you at an increased risk of injury, inflammation, and pain at all joints of the body. These hormones commonly cause instability and abnormal motion of the sacroiliac joint, pubic-symphysis, and other joints that can cause lasting pain.
    • Baby drops lower into the pelvis, engaging for birth. This shift or drop can cause further stress on the body, as the mother alters her posture to accommodate this extra weight and different position from baby.
    • Braxton Hicks contractions. These are the body’s way of preparing birth, and they can be both positive and negative. If brought on by dehydration, stress, over-working, or exhaustion, the body will not be working as a whole. Maintaining a healthy diet, proper sleep, and daily exercise should help keep Braxton hicks contractions to a beneficial amount.

    If birth was difficult or traumatic, the spine and pelvic joints large challenges to overcome.

    Once the baby has arrived, a mother’s center of gravity is altered drastically, causing her to even walk differently. Her hormones rollercoaster, and her body works toward nourishing the baby. Holding this new baby can shift the posture and strain the wrist, neck, or back. Failure to restore normal biomechanics may result in permanent health problems in need of medical intervention.

    The jury is still out on exactly how long the hormone relaxin can affect the body postpartum. If it is still present, the ligaments of the body will not completely tighten. Research shows that the ligaments begin to re-tighten nearly 8 weeks after giving birth, but the process’ length can be different for each woman, taking up to a year or more. It is critical to work with a qualified chiropractor before ligaments begin to pull back, as it can cause long-term problems if the joints are not properly aligned.

    During the postpartum period, chiropractic adjustments speed recovery time, aid the body in normalizing pelvic and spinal positions, and help correct the posture. Seeking chiropractic care within the first two weeks after giving birth may help to prevent headaches, shoulder problems, neck discomfort, muscle tension, lower back pain, sciatica, upper back pain, wrist and elbow pain, and more.

     

    References:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19591614
    https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/holistic-pregnancy-childbirth/how-does-my-body-work-during-childbirth
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647084/

    Chiropractic care decreases postpartum pelvic pain 2015 case study suggests

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  • Anxiety

    1 October 2015
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    Anxiety

    Many times you read that anxiety is a normal part of life, but if you are googling and researching because of how your anxiety makes you feel, then you may have an anxiety disorder.  Chest pains, nightmares, atypical fears, and non-diminishing anxiety are cause to dig deeper.

    anxiety

    Diagnoses that may actually be anxiety related:

    Brain chemistry can affect your mood and mental health. Researchers have linked abnormal activity in certain brain structures to anxiety disorders. There are a number of factors that have been identified by specialists as being related to anxiety. The brain of an overly anxious person is already more sensitive to stress. When the body is confronted with a perceived threat in the environment, the brain prepares it to react. The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) becomes active in stressful situations. The SNS is what triggers physiological reactions in the body such as:

    • Increased heart rate
    • Dilation of the pupils
    • Sweating
    • Tensing of the muscles
    • Accelerated breathing
    • Trembling hands

    While a healthy person’s brain recovers from stress at a normal rate, the brain of a person who is prone to anxiety takes longer to re-adjust itself to a normal state. An anxious individual is also more likely to experience acute stress because even in a relaxed state, the brain of someone with anxiety issues is somewhat over-excited. Anxiety disorders cause the affected person to be in a perpetual state of stress, so events and situations can further upset the balance of the body.

    A chemical in the brain which is involved in the onset of anxiety is norepinephrine. When it is released in the brain, norepinephrine functions as a signal to the body to panic. In some cases, panic attacks are triggered in people with very little external cause. (http://emetophobiarecovery.com/)

    MTHFR and Anxiety
    MTHFR, short for “Methyl Tetra Hydro Folate Reductase” controls the formation of chemicals in your brain. If you inherited a non-functioning gene, or your gene is not working properly, you will have low levels of serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline, which can cause genetic anxiety or depression. MTHFR is responsible for a process called “methylation,” well known for changing homocysteine into methionine. The MTHFR enzyme is also involved indirectly in the production of many neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, norepinepherine, etc), as well as SAMe and glutathione (a pivotal anti-oxidant molecule involved in the body’s natural detoxification process).
    There are 31 currently known variations of this gene.  The two most common are known as the 677 and the 1298 (which makes reference to the specific location on the gene where the abnormality is).

    Having one or two of the lower functioning MTHFR enzymes can contribute to symptoms of so many things (we will break these down in future blogs):

    • Cardiovascular risks associated with high Homocystiene
    • Folate deficiency related pregnancy and development problems
    • Neurotransmitter issues like Anxiety and Depression
    • Significant decrease in ability to eliminate toxins, especially heavy metals

    MTHFR being tied to anxiety is not well known yet, but should be taken very seriously. A simple blood test can be done to determine your MTHFR status; along with this test, testing for B12, folate, and homocysteine labs will allow you to learn how to correctly supplement for your results. Many patients that have these less-than-optimal genes experience significant (and sometimes dramatic) improvement once beginning the “MTHF Repletion” protocol.

    anxiety1

     

    Anxiety is not an all-in-one disorder.

    Several types of anxiety disorders exist and all should be taken seriously: www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

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    • Separation anxiety disorderis a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that is excessive for the developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.
    • Selective mutismis a consistent failure to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when you can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work and social functioning.
    • Specific phobiasare characterized by major anxiety when you’re exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.
    • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
    • Panic disorderinvolves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, heart palpitations or chest pain.
    • Agoraphobiais anxiety about, and often avoidance of, places or situations where you might feel trapped or helpless if you start to feel panicky or experience embarrassing symptoms, such as losing control.
    • Generalized anxiety disorderincludes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry is usually out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and interferes with your ability to focus on current tasks. It often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.
    • Substance-induced anxiety disorderis characterized by prominent symptoms of anxiety or panic that are a direct result of abusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.
    • Anxiety disorder due to a medical conditionincludes prominent symptoms of anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
    • Specified anxiety disorder and unspecified anxiety disorderare terms for anxiety or phobias that don’t meet the exact criteria for any other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be distressing and disruptive.

    Several herbal remedies have been studied as a treatment for anxiety: www.naturaldatabase.com

    • In some studies, people who used valerian reported less anxiety and stress.  When it’s time to stop using valerian, it must be tapered down to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
    • A few small clinical trials suggest that passionflower might help with anxiety. In many commercial products, passionflower is combined with other herbs, making it difficult to distinguish the unique qualities of each herb.
    • This amino acid is found in green tea and may be found in some supplements. Preliminary evidence shows that theanine may make some people feel calmer.

    Lifestyle changes can make a difference.

    • Keep physically active.Develop a routine that includes lifting weights. Be sure you’re physically active most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. It may improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities.  (Strength training has been proven to balance hormones, so make sure to include this into your regular routine.)
    • Avoid alcohol and other sedatives.These substances can worsen anxiety.
    • Quit smoking and cut back or quit drinking coffee.Both nicotine and caffeine can worsen anxiety.
    • Use relaxation techniques.Visualization techniques, meditation and yoga are examples of relaxation techniques that can ease anxiety.
    • Make sleep a priority.Do what you can to make sure you’re getting enough sleep to feel rested.
    • Eat healthy.Healthy eating is linked to reduced anxiety.  Consider gluten free and dairy free as both are inflammatory foods.  Avoid alcohol and drug use, as these can cause or worsen anxiety.
    • Get outside. The lower the Vitamin D level, the higher the risk of anxiety disorder or depression. Let that sun hit your skin and soak up all the Vitamin D possible.

    Chiropractic Care for Anxiety:

    All of your moods, feelings and health are based upon chemistry.  Your internal organs and brain chemistry is regulated through your nervous system.  Your nervous system is the master control system and it controls every aspect of your body and your health.

    When your fist, second or third vertebrae become misaligned they put pressure on your brainstem causing neurological and CHEMICAL INTERFERENCE.  When the brainstem gets pressure from the vertebrae its normal production of brain chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) are affected.  As a result, the person’s production of serotonin is low causing changes in their mood and their behavior. Adjustments can help.  http://thelifelounge.ca/anxiety-depression-and-chiropractic-care/

    Ways to Cope:

    • Learn about your disorder. Educate yourself on your condition and ways to help. Seek and ask for help.
    • Stick to your treatment plan. Keep therapy appointments. Consistency can make a big difference.
    • Involve your family.As with any illness, asking your partner or family members for help is an important part of coping.
    • Join an anxiety support group.Remember that you aren’t alone. Support groups offer compassion, understanding and shared experiences. The National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America provide information on finding support.
    • Don’t let worries isolate you from loved ones or activities. Social interaction and caring relationships can lessen your worries.

    There’s no way to predict for certain what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you’re anxious:

    • Get help early.Anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, can be harder to treat if you wait.
    • Keep a journal.Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your mental health provider identify what’s causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better.

    Source: www.psychiatryonline.org

    It is important for people with anxiety disorders to understand what’s happening to them when they experience stress. Family and friends of those suffering need to be educated on the biology of anxiety. Knowledge of a condition can benefit the person in distress and his or her loved ones. It helps the afflicted person to cope with the illness and the people in his or her life to be supportive.

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  • Fevers in Infants and Children

    24 September 2015
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    Before diving into the benefits and confusion of fevers, I will start with explaining a fever by age.  You see, a newborn, infant and baby’s temperature is not categorized as a fever at the same numerical reading as a grown adult, or even a child for that matter.

    Did you know that a temperature up to 100.4* is completely normally in an infant under 12 weeks of age? A child over 12 weeks, a toddler, even an adult has not reached a true fever until 104*.  Nothing under this (100.4*) for a newborn is even considered an elevated temperature.  According to the American Association of Pediatrics, the normal range of temperature for an infant is between 97-100.4*F.  It is important to remember that a fever is not a form of illness. In fact, a fever is typically brought on by the body fighting off an infection or as a result of an immunization. Because a fever is generally caused by fighting off an infection, this can even be taken as a good sign of a baby’s developing immune system!  With a healthy immune system, the fever should break within 48 hours.

    Boost child's immunity (1)

    When the immune system is weak, or fighting something, it is smart to start supplementing to strengthen it.  By adding extra vitamin D, probiotics, and including colloidal silver, you can boost the immune system and have it ready to head into battle.

    col silver

    Fevers show that the body is doing exactly what it is designed to do.  They are the body’s way of healing itself.  When the child’s body increases in core temperature, it is preparing to battle.  The temperature will rise to a level that is necessary to keep the invading virus or bacteria from growing or reproducing more.  The fever causes everything to slow down and allows the body a chance to build up antibodies to fight off the disease.  Treating the fever with medication reverses this situation and tricks the body into cooling down before it is ready. The fever also acts as a catalyst to speed up enzyme reactions and metabolism.  It is during this time that the body begins to repair tissue.  Allowing the fever to run its course is the easiest and smartest way to beat the invading illness.

    The best piece of advice you will get is to step away from the thermometer.  You will know when your baby is under the weather and feverish.  Unless that baby is so hot that your mama bear instincts are screaming at you to run to the ER, then knowing a specific number won’t do anything but cause you anxiety. (And have you rechecking that temperature every 10 minutes!)  Fevers are more frightening than harmful.  They are usually a sign that the body is fighting an infection of some kind.  According to www.askdrsears.com the top three reasons for a fever in an infant are:

    Viral Infection: The most common cause of fever in children.  Roseola, colds, flu, hand-foot-mouth disease, chicken pox, fifth disease, along with many other viruses cause fever.  Most viruses are not dangerous. They simply need to run their course over several days. They are not treatable with antibiotics.  They are contagious, though, and baby should be kept home until the virus has passed.

    Bacterial Infection: Ear infections, sinus infection, pneumonia, bladder infection, and strep throat are all bacterial infections that cause fever.  Antibiotics can be used (or homeopathy and other natural remedies), but a trip to the emergency room is not needed, call your pediatrician in the morning.

    Teething: A fever up to 101*F is common while teething.

    Fever is also a very common side effect of vaccines and should be treated as a vaccine injury if the fever causes a seizure, brain swelling, or any other illness.  (Directly from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm )

    Being skin-to-skin with baby in a lukewarm bath will assist in cooling baby off gradually and will prevent him from getting too cold too quickly. It is also encouraged to ensure your baby is drinking a lot of liquids and kept in a cool room, out of the sun. If you are breastfeeding, nurse him around the clock.  Breastmilk has antibodies in it created specifically for your child and the environment you are currently in.  (www.kellymom.com )

    If your child is old enough to consume food, is no longer nursing, and is showing signs of illness, most people will recommend you supplement with pedialyte.  Before you go grabbing the sugar, preservative, and dye-filled drink, think about making a homemade version instead.

    Homemade Pedialyte Recipe: (Source: 100 Days of Real Food)

    Mix together:

    • 1 quart water
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    Note: If you fear your child will think this drink is too plain consider adding in a couple splashes of orange Juice. Also, the sugar and salt may dissolve more easily if you warm up the water first.

    The main reason to treat your child’s fever is to make him feel better.  When he is achy, fussy, crying, not sleeping, or slightly lethargic, you may want to try a handful of natural methods of lowering the temperature to help with his comfort level.  Just remember that you are treating a symptom and not the illness by lowering the temperature.   Another note worth mentioning, a fever does not always present itself as a hot forehead, a fever can show as lethargy, overly thirsty, a poor appetite, poor sleeping, or a seizure.

    Ways to help: (www.askdrsears.com )

    • Skin-to-skin, kangaroo care keeping baby chest to chest with you to help regulate body heat
    • Rest: Do NOT wake your child up. Rest is best!
    • Give your child plenty to drink to prevent dehydration (not enough fluid in the body) and help the body cool itself. Water, clear soups, and popsicles are. If your child isn’t getting enough fluids, don’t force him to eat if he doesn’t feel like it. (Breastfeed around the clock if possible.)
    • Keep your child quiet. Moving around can raise the temperature even more.
    • Keep the room temperature between 70°F to 74°F.
    • Dress your child in light cotton pajamas so that body heat can escape.
      Don’t over bundle your child. Overdressing can trap body heat and cause your child’s temperature to rise.
    • If your child is chilled, put on an extra blanket but remove it when the chills stop

    A fever is the body’s way of testing the immune system.  Regular chiropractic care keeps the immune system ready to fight. A study showed the effects of specific upper cervical adjustments increasing healthy cell counts. Along with a healthy diet and active lifestyle, chiropractic care adds to the building blocks of a strong immune system.  (http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/Kent_Model_of_Subluxation.pdf)

    Most pediatricians recommend to alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help reduce fever.  Here is the APA stance of alternating therapies:

     

    “…questions remain regarding the safety of this practice as well as the effectiveness in improving discomfort, which is the primary treatment end point. The possibility that parents will either not receive or not understand dosing instructions, combined with the wide array of formulations that contain these drugs, increases the potential for inaccurate dosing or overdosing.  ”

    So, it is best to let the fever ride out and don’t panic it’s just a fever.

    fever is good (2)

    Contrary to everyone’s belief, taking the temperature rectally is quite controversial should not be done at home. A thermometer must be inserted at least 5 cm to obtain a stable core temp. This insertion temp risks perforating the rectum and can possibly end in death. Perhaps, leave this for the extremely rare instances in the hospital when the absolute most accurate reading is needed.   (http://www.gentlebirth.org/archives/nixrectl.html )

    Above all, trust your gut instincts.  If you truly feel that your child is seriously ill, contact your doctor or head to the emergency room.  You have every right to call your pediatrician and ask questions to calm your anxiety and have your questions answered.

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  • Studies Prove 70% improvement of Asthma with chiropractic alignments!! So, why aren’t more children under chiropractic care?

    26 March 2015
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    By Dr. Brenda Fairchild

    I hear all the time in the office from parents that their doctor has told them that there is not much that he or she can do about their child’s asthma.  Conventional pediatricians suggest that the child may outgrow it, and in the meantime prescribe steroid treatments and/or inhalers for acute symptoms.  Parents often feel like they have tried everything.  Inhalers, steroids, and all different types of medications and nothing has helped. They are sick and tired of hearing their child struggle to breathe.  They are sick and tired of missing work and for their kids missing school … according to the American Lung Association, “Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism; in 2008, asthma accounted for an estimated 14.4 million lost school days in children with an asthma attack in the previous year.”  How much school as your child missed?? http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/asthma/resources/facts-and-figures/asthma-children-fact-sheet.html

    Parents come to me, Dr. Brenda Fairchild, because they are frustrated, feel helpless watching their child gasping for air, and feel like they are failing as a parent.  They are tired of their child being one of the 7.1 million children chronically suffering from asthma.  When I first meet a parent and child(ren), I always ask why they are in my office.  Did they hear that chiropractic can help with their child’s condition?  Were they referred by a pediatrician (highly doubtful…but you never know)?  Most parents aren’t always sure why or how they ended up at Pea and the Pod, but they know they need to make a change in their family’s health and NOW!  So, what can a pediatric chiropractor do to help their family?  I am going to give you a best kept secret to help your child’s asthma.  You will be amazed how much better they will feel!

    First and foremost, any child with Asthma, difficulty breathing, or other health condition, will be physically adjusted. This is not an option in care at my office.  And here is why: the Journal of Orthopedic Surgery conducted a study of 3,013 patients with bronchial asthma  published  in 2004 found they were able to “alleviate bronchial asthma and allergies by improvement of neurology causes by chronically narrowed intervertebral foraminae from the 2nd to 4th and 8th  to the 10th thoracic vertebrae…Asthma patients improved by 70%.”  This is jus11016309_10203917234346625_100385389_nt a complex way of saying that professional adjustment of the spine in the right place can alleviate breathing difficulties by 70%.  That’s right!!  A 70% improvement!!!  I don’t think any medicine can claim that much of an improvement.  What this means to YOU and YOUR child, is that misalignments of the spine in the mid-back of your child can be exasperating the asthma.  This is why chiropractic care is SO important for the health of your child!   This is why I will not see children whose parents do not what their children adjusted.  I cannot ignore a 70% improvement of asthma and you should not either.   https://ispub.com/IJOS/2/1/8061

    Another random clinical trial of 36 children with chronic asthma were studied over 3 months with chiropractic care along with medical care. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11514813 Those with chiropractic care had greatly improved quality of life  and decreased asthma severity, while those children under standard medical pulmonary treatments, showed little to no statistical improvement. Please read that sentence again.  Chiropractic care along with medical care improved symptoms, while medical care alone did not!

    Another study by the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research of 81 asthmatic children reported an improvement in 90.1% after being under chiropractic care for 60 days, ages ranged from 1-17 years of age. The number of asthma “attacks” decreased by an average of 44.9%, and 30.9% decreased their medication by 66.5%. The authors concluded that “Chiropractic care, for correction of vertebral subluxation, is a safe, non-pharmaceutical health care approach which may also be associated with significant decreases in asthma related impairment as well as a decreased incidence of asthmatic `attacks.’”

    http://vertebralsubluxation.sharepoint.com/Pages/1497_0042_impairment.aspx

    This is why, before you change anything, your child should be being seen by a pediatric chiropractor ASAP.  But it just doesn’t stop at chiropractic care, you have to look at diet and make changes, and possibly add supplements.  In my office, I generally order blood work on my clients as it can help to reveal the big picture.  Is your child also allergic to milk or gluten?  I like to start with removing dairy from the diet first, as it is the a more common intolerance, and easier to remove from the diet than gluten.  In addition, dairy products are implicated in excess mucus formation.  How much added sugar is your child consuming?  Is your child vitamin D deficient??  Many children are, especially in the winter months, and supplementation can help breathing (and overall health and immunity) improve significantly.  Are there pets in your house?  How often do you clean your house?  What kind of cleaners are you using?  What other medications or supplements are your children taking?  These are all questions you should be asking yourself.  Taking control of your child’s health is important and I know from the conversations in my office that many doctors are not addressing these questions.  At Pea and the Pod Chiropractic we will help guide you and your family, and help you figure out the best way to heal your child.  There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for children.  Individuals need individual care and we will be your partner in health!

    Call Pea and the Pod Chiropractic today to make the change! 302.368.0800 And don’t forget, Dr. Brenda is specialized in Pediatric Chiropractic Care!

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  • Practical Tips for Flu Prevention

    strong immune systemIn light of the news that this year’s flu shot is, at best, 23% effective (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/flu-vaccine-working-23-percent-effective-28249610), many people are wondering what they can do to help protect themselves and their family from the flu.  In fact, there are a lot of lifestyle changes that you can make in order to help keep your family healthy during what we have been calling ‘the sick season.’  In addition to influenza, norovirus (what most people refer to as a ‘stomach bug’ or ‘stomach flu,’ that includes vomiting, diarrhea, and fever), and rhinovirus (the common cold), all run rampant this time of year.  Many of the tactics that you can use to prevent the flu will also prevent the spread of other common contagious illnesses.

    First and foremost, practice proper hand washing!  Check out this awesome poster from the World Health Organization.  You can print it out and hang it in your bathroom for your kids: http://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/How_To_HandWash_Poster.pdf. One of the best best strategies that you can implement to help prevent the spread of illness, is have everyone take off their shoes and jackets, and WASH HANDS as soon as you get home.  From anywhere!  When you get home from school, the drugstore, the mall, the grocery store, a friend’s house, your mom’s house, anywhere.  Every time you walk in the door make it a habit to wash your hands.  If you are running multiple errands, or will be in a location where soap and water is not readily available, it is a good idea to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, but keep in mind this does not kill norovirus, clostridium difficile bacteria, or many strains of the flu virus.  Experts have said that hand sanitizer is more effective at preventing germ proliferation, rather than at killing it off, so it’s important to use soap and water whenever it’s available, and not to rely on hand sanitizers.

    In addition to hand washing, when you are out and about, it’s important to try not to touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth!  This is more difficult than people realize.  It’s habit to rub our eyes when we are tired, scratch our nose, or eat something with our hands.  Spend any time with children, and you will notice how often they have their hands in their mouths, and fingers in their nose!  That’s one of the best ways to spread germs, so talk to your kids about keeping their hands away from their face.  This will be almost impossible for them!  But it’s still important to try, and it’s never too late to begin instilling good hygiene habits in our children.

    Typically, the influenza virus is considered a “droplet transmission” virus, which means you must come into contact with the secretions of someone who is infected.  Some strains have been known to be “airborne,” which means the microscopic droplets can stay suspended in the air for some time and you can become infected by breathing them in.  For this reason, if you are going to be in contact with someone with the flu, or if you MUST go out in public when you have the flu, it is prudent to wear a respiratory mask.  These are available at any drugstore.  While you might feel silly wearing it, it’s better than getting the flu or spreading it to someone else!  Alternatively, you could wear a Scough and pretend you are covering your face because you’re cold! http://wearascough.com

    Getting regular chiropractic adjustments can help keep you and your family in optimal health.  In order for our immune systems to function appropriately, our body and brain need to be able to send effective messages to each other!  These messages are sent up and down our spinal cord (in a complex process I won’t bore you with here), and a simple adjustment can make all of the difference if some of those pathways are blocked.  Chiropractic adjustments can be especially helpful for children who have frequent sinus and ear infections as the adjustments help to keep those areas open for drainage.

    Vitamin D deficiency is almost epidemic in this country, especially during the winter months when we are exposed to very little sunshine.  However, vitamin D is crucial for proper immune function and many other functions in the body. In order for our bodies to make adequate vitamin D, we need to have adequate levels of cholesterol in our bodies, and at least 15 minutes of face and arm exposure to sunlight per day.  Clearly no one one in the Northeastern United States is getting that amount of exposure during the icy cold winter months.  A high quality vitamin D supplement can help fill in the gaps until we can all lay out in the sunshine during the warmer months.  We like Bluebonnet brand, Xymogen, and Nordic Naturals, but you can ask your chiropractor or naturopath which supplement brand they recommend.  It is especially important for breastfeeding mothers to make sure that they are not vitamin D deficient.  Many pediatricians mistakenly claim that breastmilk is deficient in vitamin D and that babies need supplementation, but this is only true if the mother is deficient.  Some breastfeeding mothers need as much as 5,000-10,000 IU supplementation in order to have enough vitamin D for themselves and their nursing baby.  Your chiropractor or other health practitioner can order a blood test so that you know what your vitamin D levels are.

    It is very important to maintain the healthiest diet possible when trying to prevent the flu and other illnesses.  By now, most of us know how damaging excess sugar can be to the immune system, so it’s especially important to keep the sugar down during outbreaks of illness!  We know how hard it is to maintain a healthy diet when fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t as available and when all you want to do is curl up with some hot comfort food.  Nourishing soups that contain a lot of garlic, onions, and ginger will help fight the flu and other illnesses.  Bone broth is a wonderful addition to everyone’s diet, see our favorite recipe here: http://wellnessmama.com/5888/how-to-make-bone-broth/ Organic oatmeal with grass-fed butter, cinnamon, and maple syrup is a delicious and nourishing way to start the day.  Pastured eggs have plenty of protein, omega-3 fats, and vitamin D.  Don’t forget to eat the yolk!  That’s where the vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats are.  Snack on organic almonds and walnuts, organic dried fruit and seeds, and grass-fed cheeses.  If you must have something sweet (as we all must sometimes), you can make your own organic low-sugar hot chocolate.  Organic, fair-trade pure cocoa powder, plus the milk or milk alternative of your choice, and just a couple teaspoons of organic cane sugar will satisfy your sweet tooth.

    Remember also, that the majority of your immune system resides in your gut.  There are certain food additives and over-the-counter medications that are known to harm the beneficial bacteria inside your large intestine that protect you from infection.  NSAIDS such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can damage gut flora when taken in excess or over long periods of time.  Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Equal) and sucralose (Splenda) have been known to kill off beneficial bacteria. Always read labels of all over-the-counter medications as many contain sucralose or aspartame.  Pedialyte, often given to children for dehydration during illness, contains sucralose, which is almost guaranteed to make your child feel worse.  Check out this blog for an all-natural rehydration drink for kids: http://dontmesswithmama.com/homemade-citrus-electrolyte-drink/

    If you or your family members do happen to come down with the flu, in the absence of other serious medical conditions, it is usually a self-limiting illness.  It is important to stay at home, preferably in bed, and to REST, when you are ill!  Our culture encourages pushing yourself to the limit, but it’s important to STAY HOME when you are sick in order to prevent passing the illness along to others.  Plenty of rest also results in a quicker recovery.  Keep hydrated and eat nourishing meals such as bone broth.  For kids without an appetite, I make a delicious, immune boosting rice dish that I have put on my birth blog here: https://birthinfullbloom.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/immune-boosting-rice-dish-for-sick-little-ones/

    Stay hydrated with coconut water, electrolyte drinks, organic juices, and tea.  Organic Lemon Balm tea is both antiviral and delicious!  Even kids like it, sweetened with a little raw honey (honey is not recommended for babies under 1 year of age).  Breastfeeding babies and kids are much less likely to come down with the flu, but if they do, it is important to nurse frequently for hydration, calories, and immune boosting effects.  If you are nursing a baby and your older child comes down with the flu, pumping breast milk and giving it to your older child in a cup can help them benefit from the antibodies it contains.  We have yet to read a convincing study indicating that Tamiflu is indicated for treatment of the diagnosed flu, but this is something you must discuss with your healthcare provider.

    There are many herbal remedies that are safe for treating common illnesses at home.  These include Echinacea and Elderberry, the two most common, Lomatium, Olive Leaf Extract, and others, but as herbal remedies are out of the scope of this blog post, we suggest directly contacting an herbalist or naturopath for dosing recommendations.  As always, boosting probiotics and vitamin C will help almost any illness.  Note that too much of either can cause loose stools in both adults and children.  If this does happen, remember that is normal (and often indicates you have just passed the therapeutic dose), and simply discontinue or back off the dosage.

    There are so many ways that you can help protect your family from the flu this season, and not all have been listed here.  If you have any questions about the information you’ve read here, please contact us at peaandthepodchiropractic.com or 302-368-0800.

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  • Chiropractic Care in the Treatment and Prevention of Pediatric Ear Infections

    Many children in the United States suffer from recurring middle ear infections, known as Otitis Media.

    In fact, 3 out of 4 children will experience at least one ear infection by the time that they are 3 years old.

    Ear infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or be the result of allergies, and include symptoms such as severe pain, fever, and irritability. The most common conventional treatment is antibiotics, but these will only work for bacterial infections (many ear infections are actually viral infections), and often don’t resolve the und10720886_10203030691383605_1006833486_nerlying condition. The result is then more recurring ear infections and subsequent antibiotic prescriptions. This in turn can create antibiotic resistance, persistent gastrointestinal distress for the child, and a myriad of other problems. Recurring ear infections can even temporarily or permanently damage your child’s hearing, also resulting in speech delays. For this reason, prevention and treatment of the underlying condition is of utmost importance.

    One of the causes of persistent ear infections is actually allergies, both seasonal and allergies to certain foods. Allergies create an accumulation of fluid in various compartments of the body, including the middle ear. This fluid accumulation provides a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. These organisms cannot grow well without the fluid. Eliminating the causes of fluid build-up, by both reducing allergen exposure and receiving chiropractic adjustments to relieve compression around the ear, can reduce the frequency of ear infections.

    Ear infections also occur after a child’s immune system has been lowered for any reason. A child’s Eustachian Tube is short, narrow, and horizontal. Because of this, bacteria and viruses (from a common cold for example) can easily make their way to the middle ear. If there is also misalignment of the structures around the ear, the microbes build up and grow even more. There is new research that the overuse of antibiotics and vaccines given early in life can contribute to recurring ear infections. As Dr. Brenda Trudell of New Beginnings Chiropractic explains, “Antibiotics given early in life, or with the first ear infection may alter infants’ immune systems in such a way that they are unable to fight off infections on their own. Some vaccines are known to lower immunity for a period of time, which can make an infant more susceptible to viral or bacterial infections. And six childhood vaccines, including Hib, have “Otitis Media” listed as a common adverse reaction, meaning the vaccine itself is a known cause of ear infections. With vaccines given at birth, 2,4,6 and12 months, it may be a reason why 62% of children are diagnosed under the age of one. A large study in New Zealand showed that vaccinated children were 3 times as likely to get OM than unvaccinated children” (http://newbeginningschiropractic.net/chiropractic-approach-to-childhood-ear-infections/) For this reason, she recommends that children who are showing any signs of illness or fever, NOT be vaccinated at that time. If their immune system is busy fighting off something else they will be more susceptible to a vaccine-induced ear infection.

    Childhood ear infections can also be caused by trauma at birth and in this case it is especially important to visit your chiropractor. Infants born via C-section, forceps, or vacuum, are at a much higher risk of spinal and cranial injury and should be seen soon after birth by a chiropractor who specializes in Pediatrics. Babies who are born via C-section and thus were not exposed to the beneficial bacteria of their mother’s vagina are at an even greater risk of developing recurring ear infections.
    One natural treatment for ear infections it to put drops of organic garlic infused olive oil or breastmilk in the ear (not to be used if a rupture is present). Supplementing your child with 1000-2000 IU of vitamin D (supplement yourself with 5,000 IU if you are breastfeeding a baby or child), up to 250 mg of vitamin C, and a high quality probiotic will also help their overall health. Exclusively breastfed infants also have much lower rates of ear infections. Most importantly though, if you are planning on treating your child’s ear infections naturally, it’s imperative to clear the fluid out of the ear and open up the space where the bacteria or virus is growing. Otherwise any treatment is going to be short-lived at best. The conventional medical treatment of this scenario is to insert tubes in the child’s ears. Ear tubes are tiny cylinders placed through the ear drum (tympanic membrane) to allow air into the middle ear. The insertion of ear tubes is currently the most common childhood surgery requiring general anesthesia. Both general anesthesia and antibiotics are serious medical interventions that are not without risks. Chiropractic adjustments of the neck and skull have been recommended by many doctors, including Dr. Sears, to aid in the treatment and prevention of ear infections in children, and these adjustments may prevent the need for tubes. Dr. Joan Fallon DC, describes her treatment of ear infections in an article for the American Chiropractic Association.

    Before yet another round of “maybe-they’ll-work-and-maybe-they-won’t” antibiotics or the drastic step of surgery, more parents are considering chiropractic to help children with chronic ear infections. Dr. Joan Fallon has published research showing that, after receiving a series of chiropractic adjustments, nearly 80 percent of the children treated were free of ear infections for at least the six-month period following their initial visits (a period that also included maintenance treatments every four to six weeks). “Chiropractic mobilizes drainage of the ear in children, and if they can continue to drain without a buildup of fluid and subsequent infection, they build up their own antibodies and recover more quickly,” explains Dr. Fallon. She’d like to see her pilot study used as a basis for larger-scale trials of chiropractic as a therapeutic modality for otitis media. (http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=69)

    Chiropractic adjustments for treating and preventing ear infections usually involve the bones of the neck, skull, jaw, and cervical spine. Correcting the alignment of the small bones in the head and neck allow fluid to properly move and drain. As Dr. Trudell explains, “Chiropractic adjustments remove interference within the nervous system by correcting misalignments in the spinal column, jaw and possibly cranial bones, without the use of drugs or surgery. Correcting misalignments also reduces muscle tension, decreases inflammation, increases mobility, and establishes proper blood flow and lymph drainage, all of which can affect the function of the middle ear and Eustachian tube.” These adjustments are very gentle and nothing to fear! Relief can even begin as early as the first treatment.

    If your child is suffering from recurrent ear infections, come and see us at Pea and the Pod! There are many factors that impact recurring ear infections and Dr. Brenda can help you find which health and lifestyle changes will help your family. We also are proud to now have an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant on staff, Mona Liza Hamlin. Exclusively breastfed babies have lower rates of ear infections and if you need help with nursing your little one please give us a call!

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