The Immune System and Common Childhood Illnesses
The immune system is the hallmark of how our body’s chemistry interacts with its environment. It sets the tone for how we handle our environment, as well as everything that goes on in our body. The first few years of development are especially important, as the system does not fully mature until around three years of age. Early responses to the environment, inside and out, becomes our role model for how the immune system functions throughout our life.
There are many red flags that can indicate a problem within the immune system, and these issues often occur when a child is very young. Childhood illnesses are common, but that does not mean that they are necessary or positive.
One of these frequent problems is ear infections. Inside the skull or cranium is the vestibular system which is located inside the ear This helps us with balance and spatial awareness. A key part of the vestibular system is the eustachian tube, which equalizes the air pressure inside your ears. With the help of the lymph tissue, it also helps drain the fluids that gather in the inner ear. Lymph tissue depends on the muscles that are connected to the bones contracting and relaxing to drain lymph nodes.
When a baby is born, the cranial plates move and the head gets squished from fifteen to ten centimeters. The eustachian tubes are horizontal at this time. By age 1, it will change position from horizontal to oblique. So the birth process can affect the position of the eustachian tube as well as the cranial plates. And if the eustachian tubes are not positioned properly, it won’t drain properly. This can cause a buildup which can be a breeding ground for viral issues.
The majority of ear infections are viral based. This means that prescribing antibiotics does nothing but mess with the gut, where the majority of your immune system is. This is why a chiropractor should be your first line of defense in the case of ear infections. We can literally feel restrictions in how the little one’s neck moves and how tight muscles might be which can lead to lymph congestion. Lymph congestion can lead to an infection.
If the infection becomes chronic, a doctor may suggest putting ear tubes in the child to drain that fluid for them. However, this should be a last resort. This procedure can puncture the tympanic membrane, also known as the eardrum. And when that happens, it’s changed forever. Changing the anatomy in any way should always be a last resort, especially as there is a correlation between ear tubes and vestibular problems.
There’s also a correlation between antibiotics and vestibular problems. It only takes one round of antibiotics to change the viscosity of the fluids in your vestibular system. The fluid should be flexible, sending messages to the brain where you are in space.
There are 3 different ways that the fluid can travel throughout your vestibular system: forward, backward, and side to side. Everytime you move, these fluids give your brain feedback so it knows exactly where you are moving to. Essentially, it helps you keep your balance.
This is even related to emotions. If you’re happy and standing tall, your brain will know that and respond accordingly. If you’re sad and hunched over, your brain will also know that. Postural change is literally a feedback mechanism to the brain. So when a child with autism flaps their hands or uses other self soothing acts, even that small movement stimulates those canals and the autonomic nervous system, releasing the chemicals that make them feel better.
Everything has its particular way that it travels throughout your body. Your blood, digestive system, vestibular fluids – it all travels in a specific way. And when that changes, physiology changes as well.
Allergies are also very common in young children. If a baby is not born via the natural birth process, they won’t be exposed to the bacteria inside the birth canal, and may become sensitive to the outside environment. Nowadays, hospitals offer allergy blankets to expose the newborn to these allergens and help them learn to live in that environment. When we can’t adapt to our environment, it’s a sign that the immune system is not operating at its highest level.
Another typical childhood illness is strep. Antibiotics are usually prescribed for this, but the bacteria is very quick to mutate. This can render the antibiotics useless, as they are no longer targeting the correct bacteria.
However, antibiotics can be a great option if they’re specifically curated to target the bacteria that is causing the illness. Unfortunately, most of the time it is broad spectrum antibiotics that are prescribed, which wipes out all the good bacteria too. It may also leave some of the bad bacteria hiding in the system and causing havoc for years after.
When this is done too often throughout early childhood during the maturation window of the immune system, we are literally programming the body to be sick. Bacterial overload can affect mood and behavior, as well as immune function. That is why I like to know the history of the individual I am working with, to create a plan that is tailored to their unique health challenges.
One of the other common illnesses in early childhood is SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). It’s not necessarily bad bacteria, but it’s bacteria in the wrong place that is literally blocking the digestive system. The bacteria should be in the large intestine, not the small intestine. Otherwise, we are not absorbing the micronutrients that we need, and may start avoiding certain foods. And we know that children avoiding things is one of the biggest signs of developmental delay, as they should be naturally inclined to go toward new things.
If your child has experienced any of these common issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a different solution. Call us at (678) 501-5172
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