Well, my little man has got his first infection – croup. The poor boy has lost his voice.. Is it too cruel to say I’m not missing his newest noise (a high pitched squeal?!). It is so heartbreaking as mother to see your baby unwell. He has a barking cough, a wheeze, he’s not sleeping well, not taking as much milk, and wanting cuddles a lot more. I’m sure most of you have been there, or will experience this with your own baby. So I wanted to take the time to share with you how I am approaching his sickness.
The first thing to remember is that all of the symptoms of his croup are because his immune system doing its job. Basically, it is the body’s way of expelling the infection. Excellent! Unless it is absolutely life-threatening, it’s best to allow the symptoms to take their natural course. Fevers are the body’s way of inhibiting the spread of bacteria and viruses, by maintaining the body at a temperature that prevents them from replicating and growing. Fevers are your friend! Fevers then allow the immune cells to swoop in and do their job – killing and clearing out the bugs (cue mucous running from every orifice).
The second most important thing is that the immune system cannot work without a functioning nervous system. So a chiropractic and nervous system check is always, always warranted during an infection. Restoring neurological balance and giving the immune system a little boost will help in supporting the body through an infection. Plus, if there is any restriction in the upper neck (cervical) region, it may reduce the body’s ability to drain all the fluid and mucous during an infection – especially from the ears.
70-80% of the immune system is found in the gut. So a fantastic way to support the body during viral infections is to support the gut’s immune system. Taking the correct probiotics as well as prebiotics is a great place to start. Probiotics are full of good bacteria that support the immune system, as well as gut function and even brain function! They are a completely under-rated supplement. You can also increase the beneficial bacteria in your body by eating fermented foods. Prebiotics are basically food for the beneficial bacteria. They support the good bacteria to grow, and prevent bad bacteria from growing. So hand in hand, prebiotics and probiotics make a great time in supporting the gut immune system. I encourage you to speak to your health care provider about which probiotics are right for you and your baby.
Croup is a viral infection, meaning that antibiotics are not helpful. And unless it is severe and your baby is very unwell, it can be managed at home.
So what have I specifically done with my child?
- Assess daily and adjust his spine (when needed) during the infection to maintain optimum neurological function – did you know spinal adjustments boost the immune system response?
- Increase the frequency of his probiotics to daily – to support his immune system
- Increase the frequency of his prebiotics to twice daily – to support his immune system
- Homeopathic support – both to help the body kill the virus, and to assist in detoxing and removing it from the body
- Essential oil burner – eucalyptus and peppermint, as well as an oil mix specifically for coughs
- Increased the number of times I offer a breastfeed – as he is taking much less each feed, and cannot use his usual “I’m hungry!” cry to tell me, and remaining hydrated is so important while fighting an infection
- Breastfeeding also gives his immune system a boost – my cells pick up some of the antigen (virus) in his saliva when he feeds, and my body produces antibodies that go through my milk to help him fight the infection (I think this is AMAZING!!)
- Increased my personal dose of probiotics since they travel through the breast milk
- Made myself present for lots and lots of cuddles – physical contact is both healing and comforting – and I allowed him to sleep on my chest most of the time
- Monitor his temperature and symptoms closely to ensure they aren’t becoming more severe to warrant a hospital visit
As you can see, chiropractic for children is not about avoiding infections. This is IMPOSSIBLE! Especially for children. In fact, one study found that children who have had a number of mild viral infections in the first few years of life have stronger immune systems and less allergies later on.
Chiropractic care for children is about trusting their little bodies to do their innate job in fighting the virus, and supporting them through their infections, and allowing them to recover well without the need for medical intervention. As always, if you have any concerns it is best to consult your health care practitioner – there is a time and a place for medical intervention.