stomach, virus, vomit, diarrhea
Client Authored, Immune

Vomiting and Diarrhea – When Being Healthy Doesn’t Feel Good {Part 2}

In this edition of “When Being Healthy Doesn’t Feel Good,” we’ll be getting to the nitty-gritty and ugly side of adaptability.  Let’s talk about the very unpleasant topics of vomiting and diarrhea.  I know.  They aren’t glamorous at all. But, they truly are necessary and healthy responses by the body to an unhealthy situation.  Remember, health is the ability to adapt; to perceive the environment and respond appropriately to it.

Vomiting and diarrhea are the body’s way of expelling viruses or bacteria (or any other unwanted material) from the stomach and/or intestinal tract.  When you eat spoiled food, for instance, your immune system recognizes that there is  something in the stomach that shouldn’t be there.  Your immune system and nerve system work together to get rid of the unwanted invaders and the nerve system causes the stomach to violently contract to expel its contents.  The same thing happens when the immune system recognizes the overwhelming presence of viruses or bacteria.  If the invaders are located in the intestinal tract (below the stomach) then the nerve system activates the smooth muscles of the large and small intestines to expel what shouldn’t be there. Vomiting and diarrhea, while terrible unpleasant, are absolutely perfect adaptations of the body in response to a less-than-optimal environment.

I mean, think about it.  If you’ve got poison, bad food, or an overpopulation of viruses or bacteria in your digestive tract, do you really want them to stay there?  If they stay, they will just continue to wreak havoc on your system.  Wouldn’t you rather get them out and be done with it?  I know I would.  But, when you take (or give to your child) medication that prevents vomiting or diarrhea, that is precisely what you’re doing.  You’re inhibiting the body’s natural adaptation and response to something being in the digestive tract that shouldn’t be there.  While terribly unpleasant and uncomfortable, it is ultimately better for your body to just let the nerve system guide the process of elimination.

So, if you or your little one are vomiting or have diarrhea, what can you do?

  1. First, remember that the nerve system runs your body (including your immune system and digestive system).  Make sure that your nerves are free from any possible interference (subluxation) that may prevent your body from adapting and functioning as it should.  It’s times like these when you should be getting checked and adjusted if necessary MORE, not less.
  2. Stay hydrated.  The biggest thing to watch out for when it comes to vomiting or diarrhea is dehydration.  A lot of water is lost during either of these responses, so it is very important that you do everything you can to keep up hydration.  Try taking little sips of water or coconut water every few minutes.  I recommend avoiding sports drinks like Gatorade or Pedialyte because of their high sugar content.  Coconut water is a better alternative because it has electrolytes and it actually rehydrates you faster than regular water.  You can even try freezing it into a popsicle and allow your child to suck on it.  However, if Gatorade or Pedialyte are the only things that will stay down, then go for it.  It is much more important to maintain hydration at this point.  Younger children are much more prone to dehydration and it can happen rather quickly in them.  If the vomiting or diarrhea has been going on for a couple of days and you’re concerned about their hydration level, contact your child’s doctor immediately.
  3. Rest. Rest. Rest.  You body is working very hard to fight an infection.  Lay low and rest or sleep as much as possible.
  4. Eat only when hungry and go slow.  If and when your appetite returns, go slow.  Your stomach and digestive tract have just been through a lot and are probably still recovering.  Go slow when reintroducing foods.  Start with foods such as broths and soups (also great ways to maintain hydration), plain toast or crackers. Eat slowly, only a few bites at a time, to make sure your body can tolerate it, before eating any more.
  5. Trust the body’s ability to get through this. Look, vomiting and diarrhea are no fun.  I get it.  Totally.  But, they are both your body’s perfect adaptation to an imperfect situation.  Try to be patient and allow the body to do what needs to be done.

As always, live life and thrive!

Dr. Jodi

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Client Authored, Move to Thrive

Cervical Joint to Joint Motion {Video}

Watch as Dr. Parsons show you simple exercises that you can do NOW and every day for the rest of your life for a healthier, less stiff, more movable neck.

Babies, Client Authored, Immune, Kids, Thrive Chiropractic Studio

Fever – When Being Healthy Doesn’t Feel Good {Part 1}

This is the inaugural article in a series that I’m calling, “When Being Healthy Doesn’t Feel Good.”  In this series we’ll be exploring those times in life when health is expressed in our bodies but it doesn’t necessarily feel so great.

Before we kick this off, I think it’s really important to define our terms.  Let’s take a look at “health” and what it means to “be healthy.”  Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines health as “a state of physical, mental, and social well-being.”  The World Health Organization says that health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  While I like this definition better because it addresses the fact that health DOES NOT equal feeling good, I tend to resonate most with French physician, Georges Canguilhem, who stated that health is “the ability to adapt to one’s environment.”

Health is the body’s ability to perceive its internal and external environment and then take proper actions in response to that environment-all with the goal of maintaining homeostasis (internal balance).  For example, health is the body’s ability to sense that the external temperature is cold and then respond appropriately by constricting blood vessels, shunting blood away from extremities like hands and feet, and creating a shiver (muscle contractions) all to maintain internal body temperature.  Health is also the ability of the heart and lungs to work harder and faster when the demand on them is greater (like during exercise) and then relax when the demand diminishes.  All of these (and more) adaptations are regulated and controlled by the nerve system.  In fact, Dr. Bruce Lipton, PhD states “the function of the nervous system is to perceive the environment and coordinate the behavior of all other cells.”  Basically, it’s the nerve system’s job to make sure we adapt.

For the most part, though, when we’re healthy we feel good, right?  Our body is at ease and everything is functioning the way it should be.  However, there are times when we are adapting to specific situations that we might not feel so great.  In fact, sometimes we feel downright miserable. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re not healthy.  It just means that we’re adapting.

Let’s take a fever for example.  Imagine that you’re doing some primitive camping in the woods.  You hiked in miles to reach your campsite and now you’re thirsty.  But, you left your water bottle in the car.  Uh-oh.  What do you do?  Well, imagine there is a stream nearby. You go over to the stream and scoop out some water.  However, before you can drink it, what must you do?  You boil it, right?  Why?  Because you want to burn off any viruses, bacteria, or other nasty stuff that may be living in the water before you ingest it, right?  Absolutely!  Raising the temperature of the water creates an environment that is inhospitable to viruses and bacteria and they die off.  Well, guess what? The EXACT same thing happens in the human body!

When the immune system (which is moderated and coordinated by the nervous system) senses an overwhelming presence of viruses or bacteria, the very first step is to raise the core body temperature.  This is ADAPTATION. This is the HEALTHY response.  The body is raising it’s temperature to fight off and kill the invaders.  Often times when core body temperature elevates, we feel chills, we may shiver, we feel very tired and run down, and, in general, we don’t feel so great.  But that doesn’t mean we’re SICK and it certainly doesn’t mean that the body has failed in some way.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

A fever is the body’s first line of defense against infection. When left alone to run its course and do its job, a fever is an extremely efficient and effective way to fight infection.  In fact, your immune system will end up stronger after a fever than it was before.  There are  a few instances, however, when a fever should warrant concern and immediate action on your part.  First, an infant under 3 months with a fever needs immediate attention.  Second, if the fever is the result of a toxin or poison, seek help right away.  Thirdly, if the fever is the result of a “heat stroke” type situation (like a child being left in a hot car in the middle of summer, or an athlete rigorously practicing a sport in extreme heat) then medical intervention is required.  However, for the most part, in otherwise healthy individuals a little fever (on average up to 104) is perfectly fine.  In children, the biggest indicator of just how “sick” a child is their demeanor and how they’re acting.  You should be paying closer attention to this, than to the number on the thermometer.

So, what happens when you reach for Tylenol, Motrin, or Ibuprofen when the thermometer reaches greater than 100?  Antipyretic medications aimed at lowering core body temperature actually work against the body’s innate intelligence and immune system.  By lowering the temperature you are taking away the body’s best defense.  You are actually hindering the process and prolonging the infection.  I know, I know, it is heart-wrenching as a parent to watch your little one not feel so great, but trust me, they will get through it. Here are some ways you can help them:

  1. Make sure their nerve system is working the best it can.  Remember, you live your life through your nerve system and your nerve system controls and coordinates every other system in your body (including your immune system).  If your nerve system is experiencing a disturbance to due to subluxation, it may be hampering your body’s ability to fight.  Chiropractic adjustments, when necessary, will free the nerve system from interference and allow the body to work the way it’s supposed to, thus increasing ADAPTABILITY.
  2. Stay hydrated.  Make sure you or your child is getting lots of fluids.  Dehydration will only make matters worse.
  3. Rest. Rest. Rest.  Your body is doing battle.  That process requires a lot of energy.  Help your body out by taking it easy and sleeping as much as possible.
  4. Cool compresses or a tepid (not cold) bath are useful ways to help bring relief to a very warm body.  They will also help to lower the temperature a little bit if it starts creeping up near 103-104.
  5. Support the immune system with Vitamin D and probiotics.  These should already be a part of your daily regimen, but if they aren’t, what are you waiting for?  Both Vitamin D and probiotics have powerful effects on the immune system and are known to boost it’s activity and support it’s functions.
  6. Relax.  Try to remember that a fever is an ADAPTATION.  It is a sign of health.

As always, we are here to help you and your family live life and thrive!  If you don’t already have a family chiropractor that makes sure your nerve system is working properly on a regular basis, get one!  We are always happy to help and can be reached at 610-925-2572.

Dr. Jodi