Written By Dr. Brenda Fairchild
“Why would a child ever need to see a chiropractor?” is a question I get asked constantly!! My question is always, “does your child have a spine?” And if they answered YES, they can benefit from chiropractic care!! Within 4 weeks of fetal development, the neural tube is closing and the brain and spinal cord are developing along with the heart. Our spine, skull, and ribs along with muscles and ligaments protect these vital organs. Baby’s development is also dependent on their position in mom as they are growing. The Webster Technique is wonderfully helpful in helping moms-to-be have proper pelvic alignment.
As the baby is brought into this world, their first trauma is the birth itself. Depending on the delivery, the baby’s head, neck, and shoulders and easily misalign coming through the vaginal canal. And can be more pronounced if the OB or midwife has to put traction on the head and neck. They may use either their hands, forceps, or suction.
How Do You Know if Your Baby is Out of Alignment? They Can’t Talk Yet.
- Not sleeping
- Crying all the time— Colic
- Flattening of the skull—Plagiocephaly
- Hard time breastfeeding
- Not liking the car seat
- Not liking tummy time— unable to hold head up
- Has lip and/or tongue ties
- Favoring looking to one side- torticollis
- Constant congestion, sick a lot
- Ear infections
- Unexplained fevers
As your baby grows up, there are things to watch out for and take into consideration:
- They may have back pain
- You may notice posture is off: possible scoliosis, text neck, gaming posture(slouched when sitting)
- Not able to focus in school, are they sitting facing the board or off to the side?
- Fall a lot, trip over their feet, fall of couch, bed, trampoline parks
- Delay in crawling or walking
- Not coordinated
- Learning to walk— falling on they bottom hundreds of times can misalign they sacrum bone
- Athletes— better performance, faster recovery times
- Recovery from auto accidents
This is not a complete list by any means. When aligning a child, it is quite different than an adult. Much more gentle and VERY specific. It is important when looking for a pediatric chiropractor to make sure they are specialized! You can visit the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association to find a pediatric chiropractor in your area. For those of you looking for more than just chiropractic and looking for a functional doctor like myself, you can find the best of the best at Intersect4Life. Through the most amazing program, we have incorporated into our practices working with balancing not only the nervous system, but the gastrointestinal(poop), endocrine, sensory, and immune system as well as biochemistry in helping with methylation, mitochondria, and metabolism. There are only a handful of pediatric chiropractors across the country and Canada and I happen to be one of them!!! Lucky you!
Why do I travel the country away from my family and office to constantly be learning more and more? Because Our Children Deserve Better!
Not only are chiropractic alignments vital to raising a healthy and thriving child, but proper nutrition, vitamins and minerals, exercise, sleep, and not over-scheduling helps with maintaining vibrant children. I know this isn’t always easy. I struggle with balance too. Just do your best!! Know you are doing a great job raising your children!
Photo Credit: dudeiwantthat.com
Dr. Brenda Fairchild
The Wonders of the Neti Pot
As many of you know… I can talk about the neti pot all day. I think this product is one of the greatest inventions of modern times!! Now, I know not everyone loves to see and feel the neti pot doing its job, but it is a wonderful way to naturally rid your sinuses of congestion and infections. And when you are pregnant and not a lot of options as far as decongestants go, this is a wonderful alternative!!
The word Neti means “nasal cleansing” and comes from ancient India. It has been around for over 5,000 years!!! Yoga masters used this technique to help with mediation. They felt they could get to a higher and deeper state of mind. Some yogi’s also believed it helped with mood swings and addictions as well. The neti pot was then massed produced in the early 1970s and has since become a favorite for those of us looking to relieve the sinus pressure naturally!
Benefits of the Neti Pot
- Lessen the time of cold, flu, or allergy
- Relieve the pressure of sinus headaches
- Help reduce pollen from the nasal passage
- Remove mucous
- Allows for easier breathing
- Great for post nasal drip
- Allows for easier breathing
Using the neti pot is pretty simple and oddly satisfying. You can get a simple pot at most of the chain stores. And most come with packets of sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride. Usually under $20. You can get ceramic to metal ones at health food stores or online. Now, from personal experiences, I highly suggest the packets!! I have tried just plain water, and it did not feel well. But, it is all up to you. I like to use filtered water if I can. I don’t use it all the time, but I try to as much as possible.
How to use the Neti Pot
Add one packet to the warm water and let them mix. I like to start with draining my most clogged nasal passage first. This means the pot is pouring the water into the good side and the clogged side is towards the sink. And let the magic begin!! I use about half the pot per nasal passage. Depending on what is going on with you our your child, the nasal mucous could be green or yellow which could be an infection to clear which could be allergies. When in doubt, call your primary physician. If there is a bad infection, there may be some blood mixed in. When you have done one side, gently blow your nose. You want to rid the body of the mucus, which is inflammation. I always tell my patients “better out than in!” You will instantly feel the pressure release!!! It is amazing!!!
I start to use the neti pot at the first sign of a cold coming on. I will do this 3-4 times a day if it is really bad. And use that over the course of 2-3 days if need be. It really cuts down the time of the cold or allergy. And can help you get some sleep at night due to your breathing better!
Other recommendations to follow the neti pot. Get Adjusted!!! It helps with aligning your body and helps with draining your sinuses as well. Watch your dairy, gluten, wheat, and sugar as they can be inflammatory. Stay hydrated with water. Get Sleep and make sure you are getting you vitamin D!
The rate of surgical births (c-sections) has declined from 32.2% to now 32.0% (as of 2015); a statistic that means close to 1 in 3 pregnant women will still be in the operating room to bring their baby into the world. While there are numerous ways to help prevent this from happening to you, the top of the list includes being educated. Understanding pregnancy, labor, birth, and the natural abilities of the body can lower the risk of delivering via c-section. However, the odds are against so many mothers, and unfortunately many of the mothers and infants in my practice began seeking my care after experiencing a surgical birth.
One of the first questions that I am asked by these mothers is, “Can I see a chiropractor after having a c-section?” The answer is an overwhelming, “Yes.”
There are several reasons for a c-section to take place, but even when completely necessary, the mother and newborn may have negative side effects. Chiropractic care can be life-changing for these families suffering from daily pain and problems with their baby.
During a C-Section:
· An epidural is given. This can cause issues within itself for both mother and baby in relation to chronic pain after delivery.
· The baby is pulled from the womb through a small incision, which means that the neck and head are forced into an unnatural angle, the plates of the skull do not experience the pressure they need for proper placement and development, and the lungs are not compressed through contractions as the baby passes through the birth canal. All of these issues are linked to weakening the immune system, as well as evoking stress hormones to be released.
You can imagine the impact this has on the infant’s alignment.
Babies born via c-section are at an increased risk of experiencing:
· Chronic Pain. Stress hormones are released and can cause mental and physical discomfort.
· Chronic Illness: Obesity, allergies, asthma, and diabetes top the list.
· Subluxations (neurostructural dysfunction) due to delivery method and position in the womb.
· Improper Microbiome Balance due to not passing through the birth canal and avoiding the absorbing of the mother’s bacteria meant to create the foundation of proper gut health in the baby.
Studies show that infants are affected for at least the first two year of life after being born by c-section. The research points to these problems continuing throughout childhood and into adulthood as well, but more time is needed to continue the studies.
Chiropractic care can eliminate the subluxations that cause the above-mentioned problems. Most women who choose chiropractic care do so because it is not invasive, there are no medications needed, and it is a safe and effective option for healing both mother and her baby. A highly-qualified family chiropractor can work wonders.
Headaches: Reasons and Relief.
Adults who suffer from severe headaches and migraines say that they grew up with headaches throughout childhood. Catching, treating, and preventing headaches in children can lead to life filled with significantly more pain-free days.
According to the National Headache Foundation, the most common headache in children is a tension headache, which starts in the neck and wraps around the head.
75% of children will get headaches before the age of 15, with girls being more affected than boys. The numbers are continuing to rise due to our American lifestyle. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2526375/
The main cause, you ask? Our guess: Technology. Texting, using the iPad, hand held video games, anything keeping the child looking down. Even sitting and completing hours of homework can cause tension in the neck. We need to break this habit (in ourselves as well as our children). Introduce a book stand for homework and reading, even the iPad will work on this. Try to limit your time on the phone or other device and pay attention to your posture while on it.
Move! Get outside. Play with your kids, stimulate their brains, and stimulate your brain! Engage the core muscles. Strong core muscles mean a strong back. Stand up every 20-30 minutes of sitting at work (or doing homework), sit on a yoga ball instead of an office chair, and exercise regularly, adding more core exercises into your workout.
Headaches can be divided into two categories: Primary and secondary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by disease or illness and are rare.
Primary Headaches include:
- Cluster Headaches
- Tension Headaches
- Persistent Daily Headaches
- Cough Headaches
- Exercise Headaches
- Sex Headaches
Possible Lifestyle Triggers:
- Processed Foods
- Lack of Sleep
- Poor posture
- Skipped meals
Persistent daily headaches are NOT normal. Treating the headache is just masking a symptom. The thyroid, Vitamin D, and adrenal glands all can cause headaches and are generally overlooked in the mainstream population. The thyroid aids in brain development, secretes hormones, regulates your temperature, and helps with metabolism. Vitamin D is important for bones, muscles, and the brain. It is also helpful in preventing cancer, autoimmune diseases, and hypothyroid. Having lab work done to know your numbers is helpful in supplementing yourself correctly.
The adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys and are responsible for producing cortisol and sex hormones. Cortisol has been called the “stress hormone,” and is responsible for regulating the body during stages of increased stress in life. We tend to always be in a high state of stress. That means our cortisol is always high and does not come down as it should. Again, lab work should be done to know exact levels.
While most people tend to categorize their headaches as sinus pressure or a sinus headache, this is actually not accurate and very uncommon. Roger Cady and Curtis Schneider of the Headache Care Center in Springfield, Mo., have shown that nearly 98 percent of people who believed they had sinus headaches were actually experiencing a migraine. So instead of blaming your sinuses, start a headache log and document foods you are eating, strong scents, exercise, and daily lifestyle. You may be able to find your body’s trigger.
Brain tissue does not feel pain the same way skin and other organs do. The brain is encased in a hard, protective covering and it does not respond to touch or pressure sensations. Headaches occur because of activation or irritation of structures that do sense pain: skin, bone or neck joints, blood vessels or muscles. Headaches occur in response to exposure to internal or external triggers, such as hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, fasting or stress. Exposure to these triggers prompts the brain to signal pain centers that produce a variety of chemical messengers, including serotonin and norepinephrine, which cause expansion of meningeal blood vessels surrounding the brain. This expansion results in increased blood flow, and blood vessels on the side of the head can become more prominent and tender. As the blood vessels swell they stretch the nerves that surround them, causing these nerves to send signals to the trigeminal system, an area of the brain that relays pain messages for the head and face. Activation of the trigeminal system most commonly causes pain around the eye and cheek, creating the false perception of “sinus” pain. The trigeminal system also sends messages to the hypothalamus, an area of the brain involved in food cravings, and to the upper part of the cervical spinal cord, which may result in muscle spasms in the neck. (Source: Cephalagia: An International Journal of Headache)
Ways to help headaches:
Yoga: It is important to start practicing as soon as possible after you start to feel the pain. Imagine your brain shrinking with each pose. Yoga promotes blood flow and relaxation, helping the body to align and alleviate the pain.
Exercise: Increase in exercise will aid in digestion and help with improved sleep. Nabih Ramadan, MD, a neurologist at the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, and chair of the National Headache Foundation (NHF) Education and Biomedical Research Committee states that regular exercise at least three times a week can lessen the frequency of headaches. A study based on surveys from over 69,000 people in Norway, found that sedentary adults had a higher risk of headaches than their more active counterparts. Likewise, the researchers noted that study participants who reported more frequent headaches were the least likely to be physically active.
Remember that a strong core means a strong back. A strong back leads to strong, correct posture. Make sure you include strength exercises for your core.
Pressure points: Acupressure can relieve pain and rebalance the body quickly.
Points to try:
- The inside of your eyebrow, just above the bridge of your nose.
- The temples: gentle massaging motion
- The base of the skull: Tilt your head back and press upward in a circular motion
- Between the thumb and index finger: Pinch the area and massage
- Between the big and second toes: move one inch forward and press down
Magnesium: According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), nearly half of the people suffering from migraine headaches show to have a low amount of ionized magnesium in their blood. A great way to add magnesium to the body is topically, through the skin. Magnesium oil used regularly can help the frequency of headaches. Remember that magnesium needs calcium to do its job.
Two studies have shown that supplementing with magnesium may reduce the frequency of headaches. Magnesium levels affect serotonin receptors and have an effect on nitric oxide synthesis and release, as well as on NMDA receptors all brain structures and chemicals suspected to important in the formation of a migraine. www.thedailyheadache.com
Chiropractic care: Chiropractic care helps with headaches and balances all three nervous systems. A study from 2001 found chiropractic care resulted in immediate improvement in headache severity when used to treat episodes of cervicogenic headache. Aligning the body and correcting the posture can help alleviate frequent headaches and the severity of headaches. http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/Behavioral_and_Physical_Treatments_for_Headache.html
Gluten free: Diet plays a huge role in triggering a headache. A study published in BMC Medicine discovered that gluten sensitive individuals are at a higher risk of headaches. Frequent headaches can be eliminated by a simple change in one’s diet. ( www.migraine.com ) Cut out processed foods as well as gluten. Preservatives such as nitrites are linked to migraines.
Hydration: Water makes up 70% of the human body and 80% of the brain. It is a very powerful nutrient. When it is lacking, you can expect to suffer a wide range of health ailments. Headaches are one of the most common illnesses associated with dehydration. Carry water with you and remember to drink often. http://www.newsmax.com/health/Dr-Brownstein/headache-arthritis-dehydration-water/2014/02/06/id/551303/
Reflux: How to Help Naturally.
Arching his back while screaming, spitting up when eating, not sleeping, these are all signs of reflux in an infant. While some choose to overlook these symptoms, others want to know more, to understand what their baby is suffering from, and more importantly, to help.
Over 50% of infants suffer from reflux.
Doctors will typically ask parents to cope with their unhappy child for a few months until their reflux dissipates. If the parent is persistent or the child shows poor signs of poor growth, a doctor may perform one of the following tests:
- Ultrasound: detecting an obstruction in the opening between the stomach and small intestine
- Blood Work: to rule out or identify any possible causes of recurring vomiting
- Esophageal pH Monitoring: measuring the acidity in the esophagus by inserting a tube through the nose
- Upper Endoscopy: using a tube with a camera lens inserted through the mouth, the doctor will see into the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine. Samples of tissue may be taken for study. This procedure is done under general anesthesia.
Less invasive doctors will first suggest that a breastfeeding mother remove dairy from her diet. A formula fed infant will be given a list of different formulas to try. If the reflux continues, medication will naturally be recommended. H2 Histamine Blockers such as Zantac or Pepsid are prescribed, followed by stronger medications such as Prevacid or Prilosec (proton pump inhibitors). As all medications do, these have a laundry list of side effects from dizziness to vomiting. There have been no studies conducted on children and dosages of zantac.
There are other ways. Natural ways. Ways to help your crying, pained child.
Let’s discuss reflux.
Did you know that reflux is actually the symptom of TOO LITTLE stomach acid? This can be traced back to pregnancy and mom’s morning sickness and heartburn. These ailments can be passed to baby in-utero. As we get older, our acid drops and there is an increase in GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
The medications given are actually making the problem worse by suppressing the acid. The absent acid is hydrochloric acid (HCL), and when low, an organism called Helicobacter pylori or H. Pylori causes a low grade inflammation of the lining of the stomach, and over time the body’s response is to want to get rid of it. This is reflux.
Make sure to wean from any medications gradually, as the body will rebound and worsen the reflux if you quit cold turkey.
Behind ear infections, reflux is a close second as to why parents visit the office. After learning more about the child, mother, pregnancy, diet, supplements, and medication usage, we will discuss and plan dietary changes and a supplement plan. If breastfeeding and keeping the baby’s gut “pure,” the plan will be only for the mother. But infants can be supplemented as well as the mother. If not breastfeeding, infant should be supplemented.
- Vitamin D: More than likely, the mother is deficient in Vitamin D. Without knowing your vitamin D levels, you can follow recommended doses of a liquid vitamin D; however, testing to know your levels is most beneficial. (I usually recommend Xymogen brand.) If you are not as concerned with keeping your child’s gut “virgin,” then you can supplement your child with recommended dosage.
- Probiotics: (AMAZING) They help heal the gut and boost immunity. Did you know 85% of your immunity comes from your gut? You want a probiotic with a minimum of 7-10 strain. You just don’t want to take acidophilus. (We recommend Davinci Mega Probiotic davincilabs.com ) Taking care of the gut, yours and your infant’s will boost your immunity and help with a healthy life. Please follow the label for dosage. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3337124/ and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166766/
- Digestive Enzymes: Mom can incorporate these alongside the probiotics to help break down fats, proteins, carbohydrates and milk sugars. Our foods today are not broken down like they once were due to over-processing.
- Limit/Eliminate Dairy, Gluten, Caffeine, Alcohol: Dairy can produce histamines, which cause irritation to the lining of the gut and causes a decrease in the production of acid. Gluten also irritates the gut. Stick with organic as far as your budget allows. Look for no antibiotic use, no hormone, and free range with meat and dairy.
- Water: Stay well hydrated for breastmilk supply.
- Unrefined Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt: These salts help produce HCL(hydrochloric acid) in the stomach, fighting off parasites and aiding in digestion.
- Complex Minerals: The body needs an average of 80 essential minerals a day, but the typical person gets 10-15. Also, a diet high in meat and processed foods can demineralize the body; and a diet low in salt will make the body deficient in nutrients. (Schroeder, HA. Losses of vitamins and trace minerals resulting from processing and preservation of foods. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 24: MAY 1971, pp. 562-573.) We recommend Youngevity’s Cheri minerals http://youngevity.com/
- Aloe Juice: Aloe coats the lining of the gut to allow healing from the repeated acidity that has irritated the lining, therefore allowing nutrients to be absorbed. Mom should consume in the morning on empty stomach and before night time on an empty stomach for 4-6 weeks or until the reflux has resolved. Aloe juice can be given directly to the baby, morning and evening.
- Inclined Sleep: place a wedge or small pillow under the mattress of child’s bed/crib to prop her up at a slight This keeps the body in proper alignment for digestion.
Reflux in Toddlers:
Along with supplementing a toddler, helping to close the cardiac sphincter, the valve that allows everything in and out of the stomach, will help control the reflux. This can be done by laying the child down after eating and feeling under the breast bone and sternum (small knob) for a pocket of tissue, no bone. That is the sphincter. Depending on if the child is infant or older, you may use 1 or 2 fingers, pressing down about ¼ to ½ inch and then aiming your hand toward the feet (almost like a scooping motion) using sustained pressure for 20-30 seconds after every feeding.
Chiropractic Care for Reflux:
Misalignments in the upper neck due to childbirth or not being positioned correctly in the womb can be a cause of reflux. Parents tend to place baby in a swing or seat inclined to aid in reflux relief. This then causes the legs to be elevated and the spine to flex and curve forward, putting added stress on the infant’s body that shouldn’t be there. This causes tight and spasming muscles. The chiropractic adjustments will help to calm the muscles down and align the spine, allowing for the body to function more effectively.
Studies Prove 70% improvement of Asthma with chiropractic alignments!! So, why aren’t more children under chiropractic care?
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 just 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.’”
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!
In 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.