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Advanced Alternative Medicine Center

Advanced Alternative Medicine Center

Digestive Problems

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In this video, Dr. Huntoon discusses Digestive Issues and what you need to be aware of if they are affecting your child(ren).

Consider clicking on any of the links to your right, listen to our radio show on How To Raise a Healthy Child, or scroll down to read the full article.

When making health choices for your child, starting out naturally first is a much better choice versus starting with medication.  I think you know why.

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There are many problems that may affect a child's digestive system that require clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional.

Listed in the directory below are some, for which we have provided a brief overview.

Colic

Diarrhea

Food Allergies

Lactose Intolerance

1) Colic

What is colic?

Colic is a problem that affects some babies during the first three to four months of life. It is defined by the "rule of three": crying at least 3 hours per day, more than 3 days per week, and for 3 weeks duration or more. It can be very stressful and frustrating to parents. Colic usually begins suddenly, with loud and mostly continuous crying.

What causes colic?

Physicians are not certain what causes colic. There are several theories about why colic may or may not occur, including the following:

Adjusting to each other:   

One theory about colic relates to the adjustments that a new baby and his/her parents have to make to each other. Until babies learn to talk, one way they communicate with adults is by crying. Parents have to learn to interpret the reasons their baby is crying, and then figure out what to do to make the baby happy. Is the baby hungry? Wet? Cold? Hot? Tired? Bored? A baby will cry for these reasons, as well as for other problems, and parents must try to determine what is causing their baby's stress, often by trial and error. New parents, especially, may have trouble reading their baby's cues and responding appropriately. The baby may continue to cry simply because its needs have not yet been met.  

Always reassure the baby verbally and through touching and holding the child that they are loved and you are happy they have come into your life.

Temperament and adjusting to the world:  

Newborns must also make adjustments to the world they are living in. Not all babies have the same temperament. Some adjust to lights, loud noises, and all the other stimulation around them with no trouble, while others are not able to adapt as easily. Just like adults, some babies are easy-going, and some are impatient. Crying may be one way for a baby to vent feelings as he/she is getting adjusted to the world. 

Babies have been noted to cry for specific lengths of time every day, as they are getting used to the world, and as their parents are learning to interpret their needs.

Over sensitivity to gas: 

Another possible reason for excessive crying in babies might be due to an over sensitivity to their food which leads to gas in the intestine. Physicians do not think that babies with colic produce more gas than others, but simply that the normal amount of gas that is produced as food is digested is uncomfortable for some babies. Infants in the 0 to 3 month age range who are started on cereal or other high carbohydrate food are also likely to develop colic as a result of excessive fermentation. If a baby with colic seems to pass more gas than other babies do, it is probably due to sensitivities or allergies to their food and will cause crying for prolonged periods of time.

Milk allergy: 

Milk allergies may cause abdominal pain, but usually also cause diarrhea. A baby who cannot tolerate cow's milk and responds to a change in formula may have a milk allergy.

What are the symptoms of colic?

A child who is otherwise well, who cries or is fussy several hours a day, especially from 6 pm to 10 pm, with no apparent reason, may have colic. Also, babies with colic may burp frequently or pass a significant amount of gas, which would indicate a possible allergy or sensitivity to what they are eating. The face may be flushed. The abdomen may be tense with legs drawn toward it. The hands may be clenched and the feet are often cold.

The symptoms of colic may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

An alternative view of colic indicates the symptoms of colic is a combination of being sensitive to the new environment, the food being offered (breast or bottle) and the association with not knowing how to deal with the newness of everything. Certain levels of frustration in the baby will create all the symptoms of colic.  By working with a Holistic Chiropractor who can help you interpret what the baby is trying to communicate with their symptoms would be prudent.  Developing a relationship with a Holistic Chiropractor will enable many childhood illnesses to be addressed in a natural, healthy way. 

Who is at risk for colic?

Infants who are either under or over fed may be more susceptible to colic. Those who are allergic to formula or something in the mother's diet (if breastfed) are prone to colic symptoms. Infants in the 0 to 3 month age range who are started on cereal or other high carbohydrate food are also likely to develop colic as a result of excessive fermentation. Lastly, an emotionally unstable environment may contribute to colic symptoms in an infant.

Why is colic a concern?

Colic may become a concern due to the following reasons:

frustrating and stressful to parents

parents and infant lose sleep

infant may be overfed in an attempt to stop the crying

Babies with colic usually grow and gain weight appropriately, despite being fussy or irritable, being gassy, and losing sleep.

How is colic diagnosed or evaluated?

A physician will examine your baby and obtain a medical history. Questions might be asked about how long and how often your child cries, if you have noticed anything that seems to trigger the crying, and what comfort measures are effective, if any. Blood tests and x-rays or other imaging tests may be done to determine if there are other problems present.

When should we contact a physician?

Before assuming your child has colic, you should look for other signs of illness. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

not sucking or drinking a bottle well

drinking less milk than usual

vomiting

diarrhea

becoming more irritable when held or touched

strange sounding cry

change in breathing rate or effort

being more sleepy or sluggish than usual

Call your child's physician if you note any of these symptoms, or if your baby is crying excessively. Your child's physician will examine your child to make sure other problems are not present that might be causing colic-like symptoms.

Dealing with colic:

Learning how to interpret your baby's cry can be helpful in dealing with colic. It does take some time for parents and babies to become accustomed to each other. Remember, babies will cry for a certain length of time every day under normal circumstances. This is their attempt to adjust to the new environment and not having the control over their environment.

The Alternative Perspective

Having a child who has colic is not fun at all. Being motivated to look for non-conventional forms of treatment is warranted. Working with a Holistic Chiropractor can offer benefits, as using a well-rounded, multifaceted approach to address the colic within your child is advisable. This has demonstrated positive results when sticking to a specific treatment plan. Discussing what is involved and the time commitment necessary to having a full recovery is warranted.

Working with a Holistic Chiropractor who can help you determine what your baby is dealing with and what they are trying to communicate is always helpful. Developing a well-rounded, multifaceted approach to creating more harmony within your baby and their environment would be prudent. Addressing any allergies to what they are eating will go a long way towards creating more harmony within your baby. All of this requires an open mind as a parent.

Others have benefited by using Acupuncture, Homeopathy or Naturopathy when following the treatment guidelines set up by your practitioner and you. Discussing what is involved and the time commitment necessary to having a full recovery is warranted.

Other suggestions include the following:

Make sure your baby is not hungry, but do not force feed if he/she is not interested in the bottle or breast.

Change your baby's position. Sit him/her up if lying down. Let your baby face forward if you are carrying or holding him/her facing your chest. Babies like to see different views of the world.

Give your baby interesting things to look at: different shapes, colors, textures, and sizes. Talk to your baby. Sing softly to your baby.

Rock your baby.

Walk your baby.

Place your baby in an infant swing on a slow setting.

Let your baby lay on his/her belly on your lap or on the bed, and rub his/her back. Never leave your baby unattended on a bed, sofa, or other soft surface.

Go for a ride in the car. The motion of the car often soothes babies.

Try using something in your child's room that makes a repetitive sound, like a wind-up alarm clock or heartbeat audio tape.

Hold and cuddle your baby. Babies cannot be spoiled by too much attention. However, they can have problems later in life if they are ignored and their needs are not met as infants.

Let an adult family member or friend (or a responsible babysitter) care for your baby from time to time so that you can take a break. Taking care of yourself and lowering your stress level may help your baby as well.

What is the long-term outlook for a child with colic?

The symptoms of colic usually resolve by the time a baby is about 4 months of age. Consult your child's Holistic Chiropractor for more information to develop a health plan for raising your child healthy.  Your child is never too young to begin healthy habits.

2) Diarrhea

What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea is defined either as watery stool or increased frequency (or both) when compared to a normal amount. It is a common problem that may last a few days and disappear on its own.

Diarrhea may be:

acute (short-term, lasting less than two weeks), which is usually related to bacterial or viral infections.

chronic (long-term, lasting longer than two weeks), which is usually related to functional disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, or may be due to diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, celiac sprue, or Giardia.

What causes diarrhea?

Diarrhea in children may be caused by a number of conditions, including the following:

bacterial infection

viral infection

food intolerances or allergies

parasites

reaction to medications

The most common reason for diarrhea in children or adults is an irritation to the gall bladder. Consulting with a Holistic Chiropractor who can help you determine if this is true and the underlying reason for it is warranted. Most medical doctors will not even consider this as a cause.

What are the symptoms of diarrhea?

The following are the most common symptoms for diarrhea. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Severe diarrhea may indicate a serious disease, making it important to consult your child's physician if any/all of the following symptoms persist:

cramping

abdominal pain

bloating

nausea

urgent need to use the restroom

fever

bloody stools

The symptoms of diarrhea may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

Warning signs of severe diarrhea:

You should call your pediatrician if your child is less than 6 months of age or presents any of the following symptoms:

abdominal pain

blood in the stool

frequent vomiting

loss of appetite for liquids

high fever

dry, sticky mouth

weight loss

urinates less frequently (wets fewer than 6 diapers per day)

frequent diarrhea

extreme thirst

no tears when crying

depressed fontanelle (soft spot) on infant's head

How is diarrhea diagnosed?

In addition to a complete physical examination and laboratory tests for blood and urine, the child's physician may request:

laboratory examination of stool sample

additional blood tests

Treatment for diarrhea:

The Medical Perspective

Specific treatment for diarrhea will be determined by your child's physician based on:

your child's age, overall health, and medical history

extent of the condition

your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

the expectations for the course of the condition

your opinion or preference

Treatment usually involves replacing lost fluids. Antibiotics may be prescribed when bacterial infections are the cause. Helping your child recover from the negative effects of the antibiotics that are often prescribed is important.

A child with diarrhea can have regular fluids or special fluids (such as Pedialyte™ or Gatorade™) for diarrhea. Do not use anti-diarrheal medications unless recommended by your child's physician.

Alternative Treatment for diarrhea:

Working with your Holistic Chiropractor will help you determine the underlying cause for your baby’s diarrhea. Developing a well-rounded, multifaceted approach to dealing with all the underlying causes of the diarrhea is warranted. Helping your child recover from the negative effects of the antibiotics that are often prescribed is important. This is easily managed when working with a Holistic Chiropractor who has experience with dealing with these conditions and the side-effects of antibiotics.

3) Food Allergies

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an abnormal response of the body to a certain food. It is important to know that this is different than a food intolerance, which does not affect the immune system, although some of the same symptoms may be present.

What causes a food allergy?

Before having a food allergy reaction, a sensitive child must have been exposed to the food at least once before, or could also be sensitized through breast milk. It is the second time your child eats the food that the allergic symptoms happen. At that time, when IgE antibodies react with the food, histamines are released, which can cause your child to experience hives, asthma, itching in the mouth, trouble breathing, stomach pains, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.

What is the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance?

Food allergy causes an immune system response, causing symptoms in your child that range from uncomfortable to life threatening. Food intolerance does not affect the immune system, although some symptoms may be the same as in a food allergy.

What foods most often cause a food allergy?

Approximately 90 percent of all food allergies in children are caused by the following six foods:

sugar

milk

eggs

wheat

soy

tree nuts

peanuts

Sugar, eggs, milk, and peanuts are the most common causes of food allergies in children, with wheat, soy, and tree nuts also included. Peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish commonly cause the most severe reactions. About 6 percent to 8 percent of children under the age of three years have food allergies. Although most children "outgrow" their allergies, allergy to peanuts and tree nuts may be life-long.

What are the symptoms of a food allergy?

Allergic symptoms may begin within minutes to an hour after ingesting the food. The following are the most common symptoms of food allergy. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

vomiting

diarrhea

cramps

hives

swelling

eczema

itching or swelling of the lips, tongue, or mouth

itching or tightness in the throat

difficulty breathing

wheezing

lowered blood pressure

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, it does not take much of the food to cause a severe reaction in highly allergic people. In fact, as little as 1/44,000 of a peanut kernel can cause an allergic reaction for severely allergic individuals.

The symptoms of food allergy may resemble other problems or medical conditions. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment for a food allergy:

There is no medication to prevent a food allergy. The goal of treatment is to avoid the foods that cause the symptoms. After seeing your child's physician and finding which foods your child is allergic to, it is very important to avoid these foods and other similar foods in that food group. This may be problematic if your child has developed a strong liking for only certain foods. If you are breastfeeding your child, it is important to avoid foods in your diet that your child is allergic to. Small amounts of the food allergen may be transmitted to your child through your breast milk and cause a reaction.

Alternative Treatments for a food allergy:

Having allergies is not fun at all. Being motivated to look for non-conventional forms of treatment is always warranted. Working with a Holistic Chiropractor can offer benefits, as using a well-rounded, multifaceted approach to address all the causes and imbalances within your child. This has demonstrated positive results when sticking to a specific treatment plan. Discussing what is involved and the time commitment necessary to having a full recovery is warranted.

Others have benefited by using Acupuncture, Homeopathy or Naturopathy when following the treatment guidelines set up by your practitioner and you. Discussing what is involved and the time commitment necessary to having a full recovery is warranted.

Other considerations:

It is also important to give whole food vitamins and mineral supplements to your child if he/she is unable to eat certain foods. Discuss this with your child's Holistic Chiropractor.

For children who have had a severe food reaction, your child's physician may prescribe an emergency kit that contains epinephrine, which helps stop the symptoms of severe reactions. Consult your child's physician for further information.

Some children, under the direction of his/her physician, may be given certain foods again after 3 to 6 months to see if he/she has outgrown the allergy. Many allergies may be short-term in children and the food may be tolerated after the age of 3 or 4. If this is still a problem for your child and you do not currently have a Holistic Chiropractor, consulting with one would be warranted.

4) Lactose Intolerance

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is a condition caused by a lack of an enzyme called lactase. Inadequate amounts of lactase cause the body to be unable to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk products.

Lactase is normally produced in the small intestine where it breaks lactose down into a form that can be absorbed by the blood. A lack of lactase can cause uncomfortable symptoms for some people. Those who do exhibit the symptoms are said to be lactose intolerant.

Thirty to 50 million Americans (adults and children) are lactose intolerant. The disorder affects some populations more than others:

Eighty percent of all African-Americans and Native Americans are lactose intolerant.

Ninety percent to one hundred percent of Asian-Americans are lactose intolerant.

Lactose intolerance is least common among people with a northern European heritage.

What causes lactose intolerance?

Digestive diseases or injuries to the small intestine can reduce the amount of enzymes produced and is the usual cause of lactose intolerance in young children. However, most cases of lactose intolerance develop over a period of many years in adolescents and adults.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?

The following are the most common symptoms for lactose intolerance. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Common symptoms, which begin about 30 minutes to two hours after consuming foods or beverages containing lactose, may include:

nausea

cramps

bloating

gas

diarrhea

The severity of symptoms varies depending on the amount of lactose consumed and the amount each individual can tolerate.

The symptoms of lactose intolerance may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

How is lactose intolerance diagnosed?

The most common diagnostic tests (performed on an outpatient basis at the hospital, clinic, or physician's office) used to measure the absorption of lactose in the digestive system include the following:

Lactose tolerance test

this test measures the absorption of lactose in the digestive system. After fasting, the patient drinks a liquid that contains lactose. The diarrheal stools are then tested for lactose for the next 24 hours.

Undigested lactose fermented by bacteria in the colon creates lactic acid and other fatty acids, which can be detected in a stool sample, along with glucose as a result of unabsorbed lactose.

Hydrogen breath test

the patient drinks a lactose-heavy beverage. The breath is then analyzed at regular intervals to measure the amount of hydrogen. Undigested lactose in the colon is fermented by bacteria, resulting in the production of various gases, including hydrogen. When high levels of hydrogen are present in the breath, improper digestion of lactose is diagnosed.

Treatment for lactose intolerance:

Specific treatment for lactose intolerance will be determined by your child's physician based on:

your child's age, overall health, and medical history

the extent of the disease

your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

the expectations for the course of the disease

your opinion or preference

Although, there is not a treatment to improve the body's ability to produce lactase, symptoms caused by lactose intolerance can often be controlled with a proper diet. In addition, lactase enzymes may be suggested by your child's physician.

Your Solution

Alternative Treatments for lactose intolerance:

Having a child who is lactose intolerant is not fun at all. Being motivated to look for non-conventional forms of treatment is warranted. Working with a Holistic Chiropractor can offer benefits, as using a well-rounded, multifaceted approach to address the lactose intolerance within your child is advisable. This has demonstrated positive results when sticking to a specific treatment plan. Discussing what is involved and the time commitment necessary to having a full recovery is warranted.

Others have benefited by using Acupuncture, Homeopathy or Naturopathy when following the treatment guidelines set up by your practitioner and you. Discussing what is involved and the time commitment necessary to having a full recovery is warranted.

New Guidelines

In September of 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines for treating lactose intolerance. These guidelines support the use of dairy foods as an important source of calcium for bone growth and maintenance, as well as of other nutrients needed for growth in children and adolescents.

In the past, it had been recommended that dairy products should be eliminated from the diet to treat lactose intolerance. The new guidelines suggest that dairy foods should be tried to see which ones can be tolerated better than others. While the symptoms of lactose intolerance can be unpleasant, the condition does not damage the body. Thus, dairy foods that cause less disagreeable symptoms should be used in the diet to ensure adequate intake of calcium and other important nutrients.

Calcium for children with lactose intolerance:

Calcium is essential for the growth and repair of bones throughout life and has been suggested as a preventive measure for other diseases. Because milk and other dairy products are a major source of calcium, parents must be concerned with lactose intolerant children and teenagers getting enough calcium in a diet that includes little or no milk.

The recommended daily dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium, released in 2004 by the National Academy of Sciences, varies by age group.

0 to 6 months, 210 mg

6 months to 1 year, 270 mg

1 to 3 years, 500 mg

4 to 8 years, 800 mg

9 to 18 years, 1,300 mg

Many nondairy foods are high in calcium, including:

green vegetables, such as broccoli and kale (Swiss chard, spinach, and rhubarb are not listed because the body cannot use their calcium content - they contain substances called oxalates, which inhibit calcium absorption)

fish with soft, edible bones, such as salmon and sardines

yogurt with active cultures may be a good source of calcium for many people with lactose intolerance - evidence shows that the bacterial cultures used in making yogurt produce some of the lactase enzyme required for proper digestion

almonds are a great source of calcium and almond nut milk may be the best option to replace traditional cow milk. Almond milk does not have lactose in it and is well tolerated by most.

Your Holistic Chiropractor may prescribe a calcium supplement if your child is unable to get enough calcium from his/her diet.

Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium, therefore, your child's diet should provide an adequate supply of vitamin D. Sources of vitamin D include eggs and liver. Sunlight is THE BEST source of vitamin D.  You will need to avoid using sunblock if you expect the sun to provide adequate vitamin D.  20 minutes a day is quite sufficient for creating enough vitamin D.

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