Kids Getting Sick – Build Up or Shut Down

By Dr. Tony Ebel, DC, CPPFC, CCWP
Kids Getting Sick - Build Up or Shut Down | PX Docs

I have a very important message for you all right now because this fall to the winter season, we’re all going to deal with our kids getting sick. They’re going to get the sniffles and coughs. They’ll most likely get what many people call seasonal allergies, which is really just a normal response (if it’s at a normal level) to the weather changes, time changes, temperature changes, all the leaves, dust, and dryness that is out there right now. 

Here’s my take-home message for you right out of the gates – kids get sick; it’s normal!

It’s not something we should always be going into a five-star alarm rushing to the pharmacy aisle or the pediatrician’s office about. Here’s what’s been happening for a generation or two of kids… we have shifted our perspective to this idea that kids aren’t ever supposed to get sick.

I have four beautiful children, and they don’t ever get sick in my dream parent scenario. There is no illness, congestion, coughing, fever – none of that. But I also understand how God designed us. I understand neurology, physiology, and immunology and I know that kids are designed to be healthy, and to be healthy, they have to face illnesses and build up resilience and strength within their bodies to overcome them. It’s simple science, even though it’s wildly uncomfortable and so difficult as a parent to watch our kiddos struggle with even a little bit of congestion.  

But for parents, it can get concerning when that congestion turns into a cold, and that cold that should be gone in a day or two turns into a week or two of up at night struggling to breathe that comes with this big, nasty, barking cough. We may get stressed out and make that call to the traditional medical world and go down that road of suppressing the sickness and challenges instead of building them up and helping our child not only get through that acute illness but build up strength and resilience to go forward. 

Why It Is Imperative to “Build It Up” NOW

There are two things you can understand that will give you an incredible ability to help your child kick the sick naturally or even neurologically. This fall, if we do not build up our child’s strength in their body, if we instead suppress it with over-the-counter and prescription medications, it starts the cascade of nastier respiratory illnesses – things like the flu, RSV, pneumonia, and bronchitis in the middle of winter. What we do now a couple of months before that, will build up or break down their immune, and nervous systems and have everything to do with how they will handle winter. 

This can be tricky to get across, but it is crucial that we have this understanding. We have to look at things differently. I am so blessed I have a cheat code as a parent. I have studied neuroimmunological responses for 20 years and have worked with countless kiddos who were buried by illness and have gotten healthy. I know the steps, I know what causes a child to get sick, and the moment you understand that too, you can start to grasp exactly what to do to get them healthy and keep them healthy because it’s the reverse. 

It’s Time To Shift Our Perspective

The first thing we have to do is shift our perspective as parents, which is the challenge. With most families, the first move they make is to trust their pediatrician. A standard, typical, medically derived pediatrician for the advice and action steps to keep their kids healthy and get them healthy when they’re sick. The pediatrician has a philosophy and a perspective that illness means something is broken, therefore, needs to be fixed and suppressed, and they look to something on the outside to do the job. That is a very different perspective from those in pediatric chiropractic and natural, holistic, or integrative health care. 

We look at the body and understand God designed it to be strong, but he didn’t design it to not have challenges. We understand it might have to go through a bump in the road to get stronger on the other side. It might have to train for the marathon before it comes to have a chance to get through the marathon… and that’s what winter is. It’s a marathon for our kids’ neurobiological immune systems and if we don’t start training right now, if we weaken it and we sit on the sidelines, we’re going to have a long winter. 

Looking At the Big Picture While Looking at a Child’s Current, Unique Perspective

We have to look at this from a big perspective, which is how I’ve started so far, to a granular perspective, which is our child’s current perspective.

For example, my daughter Alaina, our kid who is a little bit more susceptible right now due to a growth spurt, was home with a seasonal cough. She spent a couple of days at home resting, recovering, and building back up her resilience so that she can kick butt the rest of the year. The weather is a big part of this right now and Alaina is also going through a massive growth spurt. She has gotten two inches taller since the beginning of summer. 

A growth spurt stretches the body, all of its nerves, muscles, and tissues, and especially the neck to shoulders, the spine – they grow – and the ears, nose, throat, lungs, diaphragm, and lymphatics are all tied to these muscles. Our muscles moving and being relaxed from our neck to our thorax are exactly how the body gets congestion out. So if you’re going to be outside right now as a kiddo running around playing sports, you’re going to have more mucus and production because the body has to get more stuff coming through.

Well, if those muscles and tissues are tight, they can’t move what’s called lymphatic and respiratory drainage.  

So a growth spurt and teething (teething not only creates tension for our little ones, this really goes until 2, 3, and 4 with molars), creates more tension, which creates more congestion. So it just starts to fill up the bucket a little bit easier. 

Our kiddos are also busier right now. They’ve got school and sports, so they use more energy than they were during the summer to get through the day.

There’s only so much energy to go around through our neurobiological, immune, respiratory, and digestive systems. So if they’re expending a lot of energy with school and sports and maybe not sleeping as much because of sports and homework, they’re getting less time to recharge their battery. Imagine if you only recharge your iPhone for 20 minutes instead of two hours, it won’t make it through the whole day. 

The Impact of Holiday Seasons

We are also already in the middle of pumpkin spice latte and apple cider donut season. Right around the corner is Halloween when our kiddos get chock full of candy. Next up is Thanksgiving where we literally stuff our faces with stuffing and pumpkin pie. And finally, into Christmas with Christmas cookies, holiday treats, and drinks.

We may think, “huh, it’s crazy that so many kids get so sick in January, February, and March.” 

Is it? It’s just not, it’s physiology, it’s math, it’s neurology. We can see the cycle of sickness beginning. All of these things stack up! 

One or two of them on their own is not a big deal. All of them are a much bigger deal, especially if your child had challenges early on. Such as if your child had birth intervention like a c-section, vacuum extraction, or forceps, or if they were colicky, had reflux, or were constipated. If they had motor delays and challenges such as too much or too little tone, they will struggle with respiratory immunological illnesses more because their body’s movement is challenged. So if this is in their case history, they will be more sensitive to all of these things.

The Action Steps to Kicking the Sick Naturally

Here is a simple step-by-step equation to kick the sick naturally and help your child build up resilience and crush it all winter.

Number one, take it easy. When Alaina wasn’t feeling well, she didn’t go to school. We could have sent her to school, she was feeling okay other than her cough. But if she’d had to push through school and volleyball, she would’ve been worn out even more and may have ended up missing the whole back half of the week. So take an extra day of rest and get to bed early. Also, try to incorporate some movement and sweat during the middle of the day – when she was feeling OK midday, we went outside. I even went for a bike ride with her because movement and sweat move the fluid and congestion and help clear the cough. 

Chiropractic adjustments are the cheat code. They’re not even a cheat code. They are literally required in our family for well-being because stress is a part of life. Stress gets to the neck, shoulders, those upper areas and that subluxation creates constriction, congestion, and congestion creates inflammation. We know the neurology behind subluxation, which is what adjustments fix and so getting her adjusted every single day really boosted that up. 

We’re taking all of our immune-boosting supplements like vitamin C, vitamin D, and so forth. We’ve got our diffuser going – Alaina was doing her at-home school work on the couch with the diffuser set up next to her. The diffuser’s essential oils help keep the airway clean and boost the immune system. Then of course, the last thing we’re going to do when she’s not feeling well and even all throughout these seasons is throw a bunch of sugar or junk at her. So we filled her up with really clean, healthy fats and lots of water. 

Traditional, Medical Treatments Should Be the Last Resort 

Conversely, here’s the last thing to know. What if you do go down the traditional medical path and suppress these viruses? Prescription medication, antibiotics, and nebulizers are things that God gave us for amazing responses. My son Oliver was extremely sick in the NICU way back when he was a baby, and those medications saved his life, including antibiotics.

But the truth is, every time a child goes on over the counter, respiratory and immune suppressors or even heavier things like nebulizers, steroids, and antibiotics, they are given less resilience and less response. It is a cheat code in a bad way that ends up doing the job for the body – but doesn’t even do the job fully because it’s only a piece or part of the immune response God gave us.  

A child’s immune system gets weaker every time they go through one or two courses of those treatments. That’s not hearsay or a theory – that’s neurology. That is exactly what we know. There is an abundance of research that shows us that every single time, especially a child under the age of one, gets put on antibiotics, it increases their risk of chronic immune challenges like allergies every fall or respiratory illnesses every winter. 

So here’s the deal, there are two choices. When our child is sick there is a fork in the road decision for us to make. Are we going to build up and support their body to get through it or are we going to suppress it and shut it down to get that short-term victory that comes with long-term side effects?  

Now there will be times when your child will need medical intervention. I have seen it with Oliver when he was little. Thankfully every other time one of our kids, including him, has gotten sick after that we didn’t need a single, tiny drip of medication, no nebulizers, or inhalers. We were able to follow the steps above to build them up and therefore didn’t need to go the shut it down, suppress it route. There will be times when a child gets sick enough that they need that to get their head above water and thank goodness that’s why you want to have an incredible medical provider on your team. We have the best team who can handle medical intervention if needed, but they know to use it as a last resort. I hope you have someone like that locally. If not, reach out to us. We’ll help you find them. 

When our kiddos have a little bit of congestion, a cough, or some respiratory challenges, and you decide to take these steps and build them up, you may feel alone in making this decision. That’s where you need a provider who’s going to support you in the direction you want to go. What I love about our job as pediatric chiropractors, we not only get to make those adjustments when kids are sick to boost their nervous system and get the body working better, but we can have this conversation with them. We can give them these action steps like we just did for my baby girl to boost them up. 

We as a nation, have been following the standard medicalized pathway for many generations. We now have the sickest generation of children because that direction leads to more illness, not more health. We must reserve that direction for last resort and move to drug-free, natural-building, resilience-boosting actions. 

We want to help you and your kiddos, so reach out to a trained PX Doc on our directory local to you. Our docs want to help change your child’s life for the better, to change their trajectory from chronic illness to kicking the sick naturally. God bless and be well. 

Dr. Tony Ebel is the lead writer and educational guide for PX Docs. He is a Certified Pediatric + Wellness Chiropractor with 15 years of clinical experience. In addition, Dr. Tony has been teaching and training other Pediatric + Family Chiropractors for the past 10+ years, primarily teaching the clinical protocols he created for pediatric neurodevelopmental challenges such as Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Epilepsy, Anxiety, and more. This clinical program is now taught in collaboration with the Life University Postgraduate Department and has over 500 graduates. Dr. Tony’s passion is educating, empowering, and informing parents about the nervous system's role in natural, drug-free healing for all pediatric conditions and cases.

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