Gastroenteritis and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease…and Your Child
Is that not a riveting post title or what? Actually, it is not at all, but if you are still reading, let me send you a Spark and give you a hug. Because you are a Champ! 🙂 In all seriousness, if you have a picky eater or a kid with post nasal drip or a kid with any kind of stomach or behavioral issues, I invite you to read on. This is a lot of theory here, and I hope this leads to a lot of discussion.
The short story is that my boys picked up a stomach virus during our trip to Orlando, and got sick when we came home. (Side Note: I’m going to submit to Disney that they change their tagline to “Disney: Where International Viruses Come to Party.”) But almost two weeks later, my 7-year-old Big Kid is still dealing with this virus, and it has been an emotionally tiring return home, filled with vomit, diarrhea and laundering linens on a daily basis.
But after our second trip to the doctor in so many weeks, and taking a step back at Big Kid’s health as a whole, I may have stumbled upon a bigger picture; not unlike when you start to put puzzle pieces together that you did not realize were related and they form a picture that you cannot believe you did not see before.
While we were in Orlando, Big Kid came down with a pretty good head and chest cold, with tons of phlegm. Three or four days in, he started vomiting phlegm. (Nothing more awesome than standing in the doorway of the 50s diner at Hollywood Studios and your kid throwing up in front of other patrons. Mmmm, I’ll have what he’s having.) By the time we were home, he was throwing up for real, and the Beastie Boy joined in, so it was clear a stomach virus had decided to tag along on our ride home. While the Beastie Boy recuperated in normal time, my Big Kid continues to be plagued with every-other-day vomiting, almost always at 5am in the morning.
On this second trip to the doctor, after hearing the entire story, the doc hypothesized that the vomiting created an acid reflux situation, which is now leading to the continued vomiting. A classic gastrointestinal vicious circle. Short term, my little seven year old boy is now poppin’ Zantac before bed to allow his digestive tract to heal.
But here is where the bigger picture comes into play. Relating all of this information to my mom, a Speech Therapist with training in swallowing and eating issues, a light bulb went off in her head. She remembered a training talking about how acid reflux (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD) can cause post nasal drip, and even picky eating.
Anyone who knows me and knows Big Kid also knows that I, FitMomma, am baffled by this kid’s food pickiness. Big Kid has a genuine Fear of Food. Big Kid also has a history of phlegmy issues, virus-induced asthma, and digestive issues, such has constipation.
(This in contrast to my Beastie Boy who catches something, gets sick and moves on in a relatively short period of time.)
Oh, man, puzzle pieces starting to come together.
More than once, I have stepped back and thought to myself that Big Kid is me in male form. I had so many of the same issues as a little girl and they continued into my teen and adult years. I now know that I need probiotics and digestive enzymes, along with regular cleansing, to keep me healthy. Big Kid is a step ahead of me in that he has only been on antibiotics once, while I was on them repeatedly throughout my childhood. But clearly this kid’s body is following Mom’s example, and not always in a good way.
So where am I going with this?
It is possible that Big Kid has had a reflux issue all along. This reflux contributes to his phlegm issues, his digestive issues, his picky eating. Reading through the research this morning, it can also be attributed to a variety of behavioral concerns, such as ADHD.
Now, I love doctors and all, but I learned a long time ago that they are Band-Aid fans. What is the issue, here is the band-aid for it. It is hard to find a doctor who takes a whole body approach to health. So I am with the doc on this acute situation of getting Big Kid’s reflux under control so that the vomiting stops. But long term, my kiddo might have a chronic reflux issue, and I am not interested in his starting a life-long Zantac regimen.
We are going to start with some behavioral changes, such as…
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
- Continue to endorse an anti-inflammatory diet, including lean proteins, whole grains, fruits & veggies, while limiting fatty and spicy foods.
(This will break his heart on multiple levels.)
- Keep upright after eating – at least 30 minutes, but preferably two hours.
- Elevate the head while sleeping.
I know traditional medicine likes antacids and acid blockers, however, there is a large amount of research that long-term use of antacids and acid blockers actually hurt your digestive issues, not help. Your body needs acid to digest food properly, so if you are continually reducing the amount of acid in your stomach, your body is not digesting food properly, which leads to continued digestive issues, fatigue, immune issues, etc.
Given the improvement I have seen in my own digestion, we are going to add probiotics and digestive enzymes to Big Kid’s routine. I also think Omega3s would be a great addition, given the overwhelming health benefits of adding Omegas to your system. (Long story short, Omega3s reduce inflammation, and inflammation is the root cause of most disease.) I am also looking into the role of aloe vera juice, DGL licorice, mastic gum, and slippery elm in healing digestive issues.
If you have any experience in these products for children, I would love your feedback. AdvoCare sells a chewable Omega3 supplement called Purple Champs, so that is an easy solution. AdvoCare also sells Probiotic Restore Ultra and Digest-Ease, both of which I take, but they are formulated for adults, not children. I am sure I could open up the capsules and mix the items into something for him, but it might be easier for a sensitive 7-year-old to try a more kid-friendly solution at this point.
Anyway, like most things in life, I am not sure where this journey will take me and my Big Kid, but I will keep everyone updated. Please do not hesitate to contact me or ask how things are going.
And to everyone out there, Good Health. Life is too short to stumble through it feeling crummy all the time. Big HUGS!