After 13 years of pediatric and family practice, we routinely see two very common early childhood challenges – “poor plumbers” and “poor poopers”. Fancy right? Chronic congestion, colds, ear infections, allergies, asthma, croup, etc, meets chronic constipation, colic, nausea and more. If over the counter and prescription drugs haven’t done the job, nor the myriad of diet changes, supplements, detoxes, essential oils, herbs and so forth, then this is for you!
Wellness, Kick the Sick and Perfect Storm Kiddos
Our practice splits the kids we are blessed to serve into three groups. We have our Healthy Wellness kiddos, that don’t have any symptoms or conditions and are really just living that healthy life.
This second group is our Kick the Sick kiddos. This group’s struggles usually begin in the birth to three years old age range. They’re constantly congested and stuffed up. They struggle with constipation, reflux stomach pain, and are colicky. Since that congestion or illness is always hanging on a little bit below the surface, anytime they pick up a cold, the weather changes or teething happens, boom, they endure another infection or challenge.
The third group of kids is the Perfect Storm, which can be sensory spectrum, ADHD, tons of gut and immune challenges, etc. What we do in our practice is work with those second two groups of kids and families to get them to restore, reboot and heal their way back to the first category.
Our goal is for them to get healthy and heal naturally without drugs, through their bodies’ innate healing, rocking nervous, immune and digestive systems. We want to get those systems back online so they too can live that first group life, which is healthy, vibrant, and kicking.
What We Mean By “Poor Plumbers” and “Poor Poopers”
First, we have our two categories that we’ve nicknamed “poor plumbers” and “poor poopers”, using words we’re all very familiar with. These categories come with a diagnosis on the medical side of the fence – such as allergies, asthma, RSV, croup – for respiratory struggles. The digestive issues are colic, constipation, and eczema, which actually sits within poor poopers because if your babies and kiddos are having skin issues, that’s a sign that the internal skin, (the gut and intestines) are not getting the bad things out in an effective manner. If it can’t get out into the porcelain exit, it comes out in the second skin as rashes and eczema.
What we know is that when our kiddos have these challenges with chronic congestion, colds, asthma, allergies or chronic digestive issues, the first thing that traditional medicine will do is throw some medications at it. You may start with over the counter medications, like Mucinex, Claritin, and a bunch of other options. Maybe you go to the pharmacy aisle and there’s a zillion choices and as parents, you’ve probably been stuck in that stinking aisle trying out different options because they haven’t been working. Once you realize over the counter is not working, you’re back at the pediatrician’s office to get some prescribed medications. What we find with most families when we meet them, is they’ve already exhausted those two things. Not only are they not working, but they come with very unpleasant side effects.
The last medication category used for poor plumbers if the congestion and breathing difficulties get really bad, are prescribed steroid based medications such as inhalers, nebulizers, etc. That would be our segue into the perfect storm world.
What we tend to see from these kiddos from birth to age three, is that they don’t grow out of the poor plumber or poor pooper. They tend to grow into neurosensory behavior, which can be emotional focus and regulation challenges.
We Need to Go Back to Get to the Root Cause
The most common underlying contributor to both of these issues is actually not the gut, or gluten or an inflammatory cascade in and of itself. It’s a neurological tension cascade. It’s that sympathetic nervous system, that fight or flight stress system that gets activated through what we call this perfect storm pathway with a lot of stress during pregnancy. Maybe some intervention at birth, such as a scheduled or emergency C-section, induction, vacuum, forceps, or manual assistance. We see a high correlation between birth intervention and then jamming up of the nervous system, neck, mechanics of draining the ears and the throat etc. That’s why we call it poor plumber.
We can do medical allergy testing, which is skin pricking, or functional integrative allergy testing, which is better and looks deeper. But that’s looking at physiology, which is controlled by neurology. So when we have a sustained sympathetic response, we have a pro-inflammatory immune system and literal, actual mechanical tension. The nerves and muscles around the ears and the throat are designed to move and then that moves the fluid through. If you’ve been told that your kiddo has chronic ear infections because the tubes are horizontal and later on in life, they become more vertically tilted, that’s not really what’s going on.
Gravity has little to do with drainage of our immune system, it’s really through movement. Movement is life and as our little ones move their neck, jaw, and spine, it moves things along through the ears, nose, and throat, to the lungs and along the lymphatics. That’s why kids with torticollis and plagiocephaly end up in the poor plumber category with chronic ear infections and respiratory challenges because they can’t drain that fluid out.
It’s going to be natural that when we are teething, have seasonal changes, and are exposed to bacteria, that the body needs to produce mucus. It does this so the mucus can capture the bad stuff and drain it out. The ears, throat and lymphatics along the neck muscles drain into the gut. The stomach is acidic so it’s going to kill off all the bad guys. Any bad guys who get through the stomach, make their way to the intestines that are supposed to be loaded with probiotics and beneficial bacteria, which blast away any of the bad guys that may have made it to that level.
But this doesn’t happen if the sympathetic fight or flight tension subluxation as we call it is not only leaving constriction up top, but constriction down in your gut as well. This means our kiddos are neuro mechanically jammed up and the nervous system controls the motor system, which controls movement. 90% of our body’s wellbeing has to do with drainage of the ears, nose, throat, lymphatics, and gut.
Then if we end up down the traditional medical pathway, the number one side effect of those steroid based medications is stimulation, activation, hyperactivity and emotional challenges because steroids are stimulatory to the sympathetics. It sounds counterproductive, because it is. It is overstimulating an overstimulated system. Serotonin and dopamine are supposed to be absorbed in the gut, and that doesn’t happen in a kiddo who has taken a lot of medications and antibiotics.
So we’ve got this whole Perfect Storm just inside the Kick the Sick category. All of it starts to stack and jam together, like a perfect storm. And it leads our two and three year olds and onward, with all these sensory, emotional and focus challenges.
If you have exhausted medicine and the nutritional integrative functional route and you’re living this allergy free diet, chemicals, cleaners, everything, yet your kid is still sick and digestively challenged more than you want. If they are struggling with sensory, emotional, focus, and sleep challenges more than you want, you’ve got to go all the way back to the root cause.
The gut and the immune system are the trunk of the tree, the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system are their roots, so to actually talk about root cause you’ve got to get to neurology.
If this is your family and you need help getting all of this unlocked please reach out to your local PX Doc or send us a message and we can help you out with that. We want you to have a conversation with a Care Advocate at your local Pediatric Neurologically Focused Chiropractor’s office, because that’s where you’ll get to the root cause, the solution you’ve been searching for. We want every kiddo out there to be able to live that healthy, full, vibrant rockstar kid life.