Why is my child SICK all the time??
Lately I’ve had several conversations with people about solving mysteries. This makes me sound like Angela Lansbury and I assure you I am not (but I loved that show!). These mysteries have nothing to do with crime and everything to do with health. Over the last year or two I have counseled parents who are reaching a breaking point with their child’s health. These children have chronic health problems, some big, some small. And conventional medicine has run out of options. Their MDs are shrugging their shoulders (so to speak) and saying there isn’t much more they can do, apart from trying another round of antibiotics or surgery even though the last round of antibiotics didn’t solve the problem and those ear tubes don’t seem to be doing the trick either. These parents are not being offered any further testing, or given different avenues to explore in the hopes of discovering the root problem. They are being told that chronic runny noses, skin rashes, chronic diarrhea, recurring ear infections, seasonal allergies, asthma (to name only a few) are just part of their child’s life and there isn’t much they can do about it.
This feels pretty discouraging to parents who want thriving health for their children.
The answer to these problems is both simple and complex. Simply put, all these children have one thing in common: chronic, systemic inflammation. The cause of this inflammation is more complex and is different for every child. For some it’s undiagnosed food sensitivities or allergies, for some it might be environmental health factors like heavy metal accumulation, for some there might be an underlying infection, fungus or parasite….there are countless reasons for inflammation. But one thing is certain, inflammation is the root of dis-ease, and it starts in the GUT. Always. The mystery is discovering what is causing the inflammation in the first place and that’s where the detective work comes in. And guess who the best person to solve that mystery is? YOU ARE. Yes, YOU. And I believe in you.
Unsure where to start? Here are a few avenues to explore.
1) Find a quality holistic health practitioner who does functional testing.
This could be a naturopath, trained nutritionist, osteopath or chiropractor. There are also holistic minded MDs who work in functional medicine. There is a big difference between conventional and functional testing. Conventional testing, while it can provide insights, is often incomplete and does not identify the root of many problems. Additionally, the ranges used in conventional testing detect disease when disease is already present, while a functional approach alerts practitioners to precursors to disease (and often symptoms show up before a disease state). A good example of this difference is conventional vs. functional thyroid testing. A conventional test may only test TSH levels, while a functional approach tests TSH, TT4, FTI, FT4, T3, FT3, rT3, TBG, and thyroid antibodies to identify autoimmune markers. Obviously functional testing gives a more comprehensive picture of thyroid health and often catches the problem when symptoms start but before it gets out of hand.
Looking for a naturopath? Start here.
Looking for a functional medical practitioner? Start here.
2) Start reading.
Informing yourself is one of the best ways to build your detective skills. Start reading about holistic health practices and how food and environment impact our health. When I say start reading, I don’t mean Googling scary things about your child’s condition, but rather finding holistic literature that provides deeper insight and information. Discover natural remedies to try when appropriate. Become educated about your child’s health condition. Understand that our bodies are living systems, and we are more than the sum of our parts. Inform yourself about both conventional AND alternative approaches to health. Information is power. Some of my favorite books that I use frequently when my kids are sick can be found here, and here, and here and here!
3) Keep a food diary and consider an elimination diet to rule out food sensitivities/allergies and to lower overall inflammation.
Time and time again I see the power of food and nutrition as it relates to health and healing. Keeping a food diary, along with a log of your child’s symptoms, will help you identify if there are certain foods that are bothering your child. If your child is reacting to problem foods, his immune system is too busy with food to do the real work of healing. Oftentimes a child is too inflamed to get a clear picture of underlying food reactions without first implementing an elimination diet. Elimination diets are not easy with kids, but when systemic inflammation is happening, an elimination diet can be the best course of action to give their immune systems a break and also to identify trigger foods. Working with a holistic nutritionist or practitioner to lead you through an elimination diet with the proper support is a good idea. Don’t know what an elimination diet is? Go here.
4) Give your home a green makeover.
Cleaning up your home environment will help your child lower systemic inflammation, and will also alert you to any environmental triggers that are influencing your child’s condition. Believe it or not, your home environment has a big impact on your health. The paint on the walls, the cookware you use, the personal care products in the bathroom…all of these things contribute to our overall health and wellbeing. For kids who are inflamed and sick it’s important their immune systems are not reacting to toxins in the home so they can be free to work on healing. To learn more about how to green your living space, check out the wealth of free information at the Environmental Working Group.
Ready to get started? You are smart enough. You are capable enough. You have the power to change your child’s level of health forever. I truly believe that, and I truly believe in you. Tell me about your experiences below! What skills have helped you become a medical detective?