Health In The Bay – AILMENTS – Babies, Children and Teens
From the very first day that we know that we are expecting a baby, we begin to worry about them. We worry about whether they are growing enough and have 10 fingers and toes. Then once they’re born it continues and often the worries increase. Are they developing and learning well, are they happy, are they healthy, are they making friends and on and on. This is all part of being a parent. There are certainly many things that can affect our children and their health from conception to adulthood, as their bodies and brains go through significant growth and changes. The great thing about babies and children is that they generally respond very quickly to any kind of treatment, as they and their bodies haven’t had the years of abuse that we may have had. Here at Health In The Bay, we look after many families and feel that by helping improve the health and wellbeing of our children, provides them with a solid foundation for better health in the future.
Gut Health (impact on Immunity, Behaviour, ADHD, Autism).
Children today are suffering more and more from allergies, food intolerances and sensitivities, impaired mental health such as ADHD, behavioural disorders such as Autism, anxiety, depression, low energy, fatigue, skin conditions such as eczema and poor immunity. At the core of this is the gut.
Our Gastrointestinal system is the centre of everything. It is where we digest and absorb all the nutrients we ingest. If it can do this well then we effectively utilise the nutrients, which helps improve brain function and energy levels. For our digestive system to function optimally there needs to be the correct balance of gut bacteria (flora). This is important for our immune system, it produces enzymes that are needed to break down food, it has a role in decreasing inflammation in our bodies, and problems with the gut have also shown to result in skin conditions including eczema. Another issue that can occur in our gastrointestinal system is an increase in gut permeability, (also known as leaky gut), which can also cause inflammation in the body.
Poor gut flora and inflammation impacts our nervous system and interrupts production of chemicals in the brain. These brain chemicals play an important role in children’s behaviours, moods, sleep patterns, energy and concentration. They also have an important role in disorders of behaviour such as in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. It has been found that children with these disorders have some form of gastrointestinal upset.
Signs and symptoms that may indicate a gut imbalance in your child include: bloated and firm stomach, complaining of sore stomach, flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea and low appetite, mood changes- grumpy, tired, hyperactivity, poor concentration. Gut imbalances can lead to: poor immunity; skin conditions such as eczema; allergies and food intolerances; mood changes including irritability, depression, anxiety and associated symptoms such as bedwetting, fatigue, behavioural issues and learning difficulties, inability to concentrate, as experienced with ADHD and Autism; and problems with digestion including complaints of sore tummy, firm and bloated stomach or changeable stools eg. diarrhoea or constipation or straining. If you suspect an issue with your child’s gut health, seeing a Nutritionist is of great benefit. A Nutritionist can suggest supplements to get the gut functioning optimally, as well as advise on likely causes and hence prevention. If leaky gut is the issue, the process may take a little longer as the gut needs to repair.
Immunity, Recurrent Infections, Colds, Flu.
Poor Immunity can affect every person no matter what age, but it is often more common in children and the elderly. As babies they haven’t had much exposure to bugs and viruses so are more likely to get sick. Then when they begin daycare or preschool or school, they are exposed to many more children, and hence are more likely to get sick. This can be quite normal, and there may not be anything you need to do. In actual fact it can be best to be aware of not giving too much medication ie antibiotics (as they don’t help for viruses but have been over prescribed in the past). As long as they are comfortable and able to rest and sleep they will usually get over it on their own.
If you feel that the number of bouts of colds and flu your child is experiencing is unusually high it is important to rule out more serious causes of poor immunity. Once that has been done, it would be a good idea to see a Nutritionist, as they address your child’s gut health, if that is a factor, and determine if there is anything your child is lacking that may affect their health.
Skin conditions, eg Eczema.
When someone is said to be glowing, they are seen to be healthy, and it is true that inner health is reflected in the outer skin.
Eczema is a common condition of the skin, causing redness, itching, oozing and over time rough hard thickened skin may occur. It is a disease that gets better or worse over the space of days, weeks and/or months. Eczema is often called atopic eczema or allergic eczema. This is because many people with eczema either already have other allergies, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma and/or food allergy, or will go on to develop them later.
The medical model for treating eczema is addressing the skin, and treating it directly, either with creams or uv light. These treatments can help manage the symptoms, but does not cure it. By addressing any gut imbalances (see Gut Health above) you may be able to improve the body’s own ability to improve the skin. Seeing a Nutritionist can be very helpful in improving gut health, and hence overall health.
An allergy is an excessive immune response by the body to a substance (an allergen) that it is hypersensitive to. The reaction can vary from mild to life threatening. The allergens are often common substances such as specific foods, dust, pets fur, pollen, insect stings, moulds and some medications.
When someone who is allergic is exposed to the allergen their body has an immune reaction resulting in allergic inflammation (ie redness and swelling), which can be extremely irritating and uncomfortable. This can cause symptoms in several areas such as the nose, eyes, sinuses and throat (hay fever), the skin (hives) and the lungs (asthma). Gut health can be an important factor to address (see Gut Health above) when seeking help for allergies. A Nutritionist is a great person to see to improve your gut health, and overall health, and hence address allergies.
Behavioural Problems and Disorders / Learning Difficulties.
There are numerous causes of bad or difficult behaviour in children, ranging from issues/problems at home, unstable family life, difficulties at school, illness (including worms), being in pain, to dietary factors and gastrointestinal health. It can be difficult sometimes to determine the reason or reasons.
An unstable home can result in children feeling down and /or withdrawn, or they may act out in anger, frustration. Seeing a Psychologist can really help a child deal with the home environment, and when their parents understand how their behaviour is impacting on their children, measures can be taken to improve the environment and/ or assist their child.
Having parasites, commonly worms, can result in unprovoked/unexplained irritability.
Foods that cause a blood sugar spike, or provoke and allergic reaction can also contribute to unfavourable behaviors in children. A Nutritionist can help with advise on what foods may be triggers, they can also refer for tests for Parasites, and suggest methods of getting rid of any parasites while still maintaining good gut flora. Good gut flora (see gut health above) is very important and can make a big difference in improving children’s behaviour. Poor gut flora impacts our nervous system and interrupts production of chemicals in the brain. These brain chemicals play an important role in children’s behaviours, as well as moods, sleep patterns, energy and concentration. They also have an important role in disorders of behaviour such as in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. It has been found that children with these disorders have some form of gastrointestinal upset. Seeing a Nutritionist can be very helpful, they will go through your children’s dietary habits as well as medical history that relates to their gut health, in detail. Then they can advise you on what is needed to improve their gut flora and health.
Having pain or some discomfort can really affect your mood, it can make you irritated and moody, and certainly affect concentration. As children are so active they can often hurt themselves through falls and playing sports. It can be very effective to have some Chiropractic care to rebalance the body and remove any pains. This may also help to improve sleep, which can be a factor in behavioural issues.
Learning difficulties is an umbrella term for a wide variety of learning problems. A learning disability is not a problem with intelligence or motivation. Children with these difficulties have brains which are simply wired differently.
This difference affects how they receive and process information.
Learning difficulties can be extremely frustrating for children, they may have trouble expressing their feelings, calming themselves down, and reading nonverbal cues from others. This can lead to difficulty in the classroom and with their peers, which can easily result in behavioural issues. Schools generally have many resources to go to for assistance if your child has learning difficulties, to help overcome or manage them. Seeing a Counsellor can be of great benefit to give your child an understanding of what they are dealing with, and tools to help cope with the frustration that arises from these learning difficulties.
Developmental delay is a term used when a child’s development is delayed in one or more areas compared to other children. It might be short term (transient) or long term/permanent. These different areas of development may include:
- Gross motor development (how children move).
- Fine motor development (how children manipulate objects and use their hands).
- Speech and language development (how children communicate, understand and use language).
- Cognitive/intellectual development (how children understand, think and learn).
- Social and emotional development (how children relate with others and develop increasing independence).
The term ‘developmental delay’ is generally used only until it’s determined what’s causing the delay. Short-term developmental delays can occur in premature babies, or where there is physical illness, prolonged hospitalisation, family stress or lack of opportunity to learn. Permanent developmental delays can be signs of other conditions. Examples include: cerebral palsy, language delay, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder. There are a number of resources and treatments that may be helpful including Speech Pathologists, Paediatrician, Occupational Therapist, Audiologist, special education teachers, as well as Counsellor/Psychotherapist.
A Psychotherapist is very beneficial in helping your child cope with the stresses and frustrations that can arise from dealing with school and peers. They are also useful for the family to use as a resource in coping with the emotions that come with having a child with special needs.
Reflux occurs when the muscles (sphincter) between your baby’s food pipe (oesophagus) and tummy relax, which allows stomach acid and contents come back up from the stomach into the food pipe or mouth, resulting in vomiting or spitting called ‘posseting’, which can cause burning or pain.
All babies have some level of reflux. This is because their entire digestive tract is more immature than older children. The sphincter muscle is often undeveloped and opens regularly, allowing stomach acid to flow back up the throat. As their brain and nervous system develops, they can have some weakness in their vagus nerve function, which controls bowel motility and digestion. It also doesn’t help that we often put babies on their back, whether for play or sleep, and this can only exacerbate symptoms. For some children, their reflux will be more severe and lead to complications. This might be diagnosed as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). GORD symptoms include: crying or discomfort after eating; coughing or choking regularly; refusing the breast/bottle; arching back after eating; resistance to laying on back; gassy and/or foamy bowel movements; colicky, unhappy or seemingly uncomfortable in body; wheezing, apnea or breathing difficulties (respiratory infections); sour breath, burps and hiccups; throwing up, usually projectile vomiting (not with silent reflux*); failure to gain weight. You should check with your doctor if you notice the following symptoms; your baby has bile or blood in his vomit: finds it difficult to swallow; has a fever; is irritable and difficult to settle a lot of the time; won’t eat or is not gaining weight.
Most babies grow out of it in time, but there are a few changes that can be made to help your baby be more comfortable in the meantime, such as feeding while upright, or keeping your baby upright for about 30min after feeding.
For some children with GORD, Chiropractic care can be helpful. Babies can have a tough time during the birthing process, particularly if Stage 2 is particularly long, or if forceps or vacuum were required. This can cause pulling and torsion and twisting to the baby’s spine, which can cause irritation to their nervous system, this irritation is considered a stress to the body, and when the body is under stress muscles become tense, including the diaphragm, and there are often changes to some systems especially the digestive system . Treatment of babies involves very gentle pressure to release any areas of tightness and allow the nervous system to be calm, the body to be relaxed and hence function better.
Colic is something that many babies experience. It is considered a bit of a mystery but refers to a baby with uncontrolled crying for 3 hours per day for 3 days a week for more than 3 weeks, that is otherwise healthy. It commonly starts at 2 weeks old and resolves at 3 or 4 months. Some possible causes are a growing digestive system that tends to spasm, feeding techniques eg too much milk, allergy to mother’s diet or cow’s milk , gas, hormones that cause stomach pain or fussy mood. It can also be due to irritation to the nervous system which doesn’t allow the body to relax properly therefore making it difficult to relax, settle and even sleep.
There are medical reasons that could cause this such as infections or hernias. Once medical reasons are ruled out, it can be useful to try Chiropractic. Babies can have a tough time during the birthing process, especially if Stage 2 is particularly long, or if forceps or vacuum were required. This can cause pulling and torsion and twisting to the baby’s spine, which can cause irritation to their nervous system, this irritation is considered a stress to the body, and when the body is under stress digestion changes. Treatment of babies involves very gentle pressure to release any areas of tightness and allow the nervous system to be calm, and hence allow the body to function better.
If it’s likely to be an allergy issue then seeing a Nutritionist can be helpful in determining the possible allergens and assisting in avoiding or finding substitutes for these foods.
Acne usually begins in the teenage years and disappears after eight to10 years. In some cases, it can persist until the 30s and even 40s. It is caused by inflammation of the hair follicles, and most commonly affects the face, back and chest. Features include blackheads, whiteheads, pimples (zits) and cysts. In severe cases, acne may lead to permanent scarring. The trigger for acne seem to be some of the hormones (androgens) associated with puberty and the menstrual cycle. Androgens cause the oil glands in the skin to enlarge and produce more oil. It is thought that genetics is the cause in 80% of cases.
There are a number of medications and treatments that may be helpful, but you may want to start with seeing a Nutritionist, as they can address the hormonal aspect of the issue if there seems to be an imbalance in hormones. This is especially the case if you are one of the few that have acne in your twenties or even later in life. Nutritionists are very effective in balancing hormones with simple supplements or diet advice.