Child with a fever.

Everything You Need To Know About Fevers

As both a Chiropractor and a mother, I have personally seen the benefits of a more natural approach to children’s health, and seen hundreds of children thrive without reliance on pharmaceuticals for everything that ails them. My sons are 7 and 11 years old, and I can  count the number of times I have taken their temperature.

They rarely get sick, but when they do fall ill, I understand the importance of monitoring them, giving them love, fluids and nourishment, and letting their body deal with the bacteria or virus on their own. They have never taken any medication (and yes, that is a fact I am proud of!) and I have certainly never given them any medication to treat a fever. Here’s why:

What is a Fever?

A fever is a raise in the body’s core temperature above:

37.8    If taken orally
37.2    If taken under the arm

Fevers Are Part of a Healthy Immune Response

Fevers are actually one of the body’s first lines of defence against bacteria and viruses.  By raising the temperature inside the body bacteria cannot survive!  The number of circulating white blood cells increases (important immune system fighters), the amount of iron in the blood (which bacteria need to survive) is moved into the liver where it is stored, and many toxins are released through perspiration.

Fevers Are a Good Thing!

They are the sign of a healthy, functioning immune system.  A fever on its own is not a reason for concern.  It’s important to monitor your child for other signs of possible illness (runny nose, tugging at ears, coughing, etc.) before assuming they are sick.  Other factors can also be responsible for an increase in body temperature (i.e.over-dressing, physical activity, heat exposure). When in doubt, seek advice from a health professional.

If Your Child Has a Fever

Watch them for other signs of a possible illness. Ensure they eat nutritious food (unprocessed, low-sugar, unrefined, whole foods), get adequate rest, and increased fluid intake (broth, diluted juice, H2O). If they are breastfeeding increase the frequency of feedings. Give them extra love, comfort, and reassurance their body is strong and working well to help them heal.

Can Chiropractic Care Help?

Yes. Spinal adjustments can provide beneficial support of the immune system, and subsequently, can help reduce a fever since the body is more easily able to process the bacteria or virus within. Fever is no longer needed because the infection subsides.

Can a Fever be Dangerous?

Untreated fevers caused by viral or bacterial infections do not rise inexorably, and will generally not exceed 105 degrees because the body actually has a built-in mechanism to prevent an infection induced fever from reaching 106.  Temperatures that climb to these levels are part of the cycle that normally occurs when the body is trying to fight the infection.  Although 95% of childhood fevers never reach 105, those that do often peak and then start to descend as the body heals.  Only in the cases of externally caused fevers (heatstroke, poisonings, etc) does the body’s inborn mechanism fail, and it is in these cases where fevers can exceed 106 and warrant immediate attention.

When to Visit the Emergency Room

Head to the emergency room if your child has a fever that persists for more than 3 days, develops other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, vomiting repeatedly, muscle twitching or other strange movements; is an infant younger than 2 months of age; cries inconsolably, has a high-pitched or weak cry; is difficult to waken, excessively drowsy, confused or delirious; has been exposed to an environmental toxin or ingested something poisonous; has had a seizure, a stiff neck or has purple spots on their skin; has difficulty breathing and does not feel better once nose is cleared; is acting very sick; or has underlying risk factors for serious infection.

If none of these are present, TRUST the body’s wisdom to use a fever as an adaptive response to restore health. Look to support your child’s health overall with a variety of preventative measures rather than symptom management. The long-term benefits are proven and your child will thank you!

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for fevers in children.

Don’t Stress! Your Heart Will Thank You

As a Family Chiropractor I am lucky to see people everyday who choose to invest in their health and are actively making choices to feel and function their best. Something that comes up consistently in conversation with people is stress, and it’s often connected to the changes I observe in their body and the injuries I see.

According to The Heart & Stroke Foundation, “Although stress happens first in the mind, it has strong effects on the body. People who have high levels of stress or prolonged stress have higher cholesterol or blood pressure. They may be more prone to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), a stroke risk factor.”

Emotional and mental stress create tension in your body and affect all body systems, including your muscles and joints! It’s important to regularly check in with yourself, assess your emotional health, and make changes if needed.

These are the 5 tips I suggest often, and ones I implement in my own life:

Let Go

You always have a choice in how you handle any situation and how you let it affect you. Holding negative feelings toward someone doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you! Who are you holding anger towards? What do you need to let go of?

Focus on the Good

What you dwell upon expands. If you focus on what you don’t have, that’s all you will see. Focusing your thoughts on victories instead of defeats will help you develop an attitude of gratitude and a greater sense of self-worth. When you change the way you look at things, often the things you are looking at change.

Be Thankful

The secret to happiness is not found by seeking more, but in developing an appreciation for what we have. A powerful exercise is the use of gratitude journal to reflect on day-to-day success, or simply take a few minutes to think of 5 things you are grateful for in your life. You will be pleasantly surprised how it will shift your mental state.

What’s Your Purpose?

A big question I know, but one that you need to make the time to think about. Are you living your life with purpose, plans and passion? If you could do anything you wanted to, what would it be? It’s never too late to re-design your life and pursue any dream you have. What steps can you take to start moving in that direction? Baby steps still take you forward!

Laugh!

Laughter is “the most inexpensive and most effective wonder drug”. It suppresses the secretion of stress hormones, boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation. Let’s face it – there is nothing like the feeling of a deep belly laugh! Are you laughing enough? Connect with others and share some fun.

Sleep Considerations For A Happy Spine!

Sleep is the time during which your body can focus on the activities of growth and repair. My hope is that you are sleeping 7-8 hours, and that during this time your body is in fact healing and recharging, but the position you sleep in, the type of mattress and pillows that you use can do more harm than a good night’s rest! Let’s review some of the considerations for each of these. 

Mattress

Without proper support of your spine while you are sleeping you can create strain on the muscles and ligaments, and cause the spinal joints to become irritated. If you wake up in the morning uncomfortable or with low back pain, but can stretch and get rid of it, likely the mattress is not right for you. In general, other types of back pain will stay consistent throughout the day, and will be affected by different types of movement and activity. 

When shopping for a new mattress determine your budget and needs, then do your homework before you go to the store. There are different types of mattresses, such as inner spring, latex, or memory foam, and it can be helpful to understand the benefits of each before you start testing them out. There are concerns about the fibres or composition of some mattresses, environmental and toxicity concerns with some of them, so be sure to learn as much as you can so that you can make a choice you are comfortable with. Most stores have a good return policy, be sure to take it vantage of it if you’re not comfortable on it after a series of nights. 

Pillows

The type and number of pillows you use will either support your neck and all the spinal joints, ligaments and muscles, or cause damage! Your head should always be in a neutral position if you are sleeping on your side or back. Problems arise when people either use too many or too few pillows: With too many pillows the neck can be too elevated, hyper-flexed and tilted upwards, with too little support (a really flat pillow) the neck can be tilted back too far. One pillow is usually sufficient – it should have enough fluffiness to give you comfort, but not stretch your neck too far up her too far down, right in the middle at neutral is best. Memory foam pillows are great because they will contour to your shape. A good pillow can be expensive but it’s worth the investment to find a pillow that’s best for you. 

Which Position Is Best To Sleep In?

An easy answer for me here: Side, or back. Never on your stomach! When you sleep on your stomach you need to rotate your head one direction, and when you stay in this position for 7-8 hours you will strain and stretch the muscles in your neck. When people tell me they wake up in the morning with muscle spasms, extreme tension, and lack of mobility it’s often because their head was twisted to one side all night log. Another concern with sleeping is the position of arms. When you sleep with your arm up over head, you’ll develop shoulder injuries due to the lack of circulation, and interestingly this position also causes the lumbar spine to become compressed. Both are problems for the spine! 

Sleeping on your side or back is always preferable. If you feel this is uncomfortable or causes any strain (see your Chiropractor to correct the problem!) but you can also place a pillow between your legs, or under your knees to see if that helps. 

Dr. Melissa 

RYH 23: Forget Resolutions! My Annual Ritual For Kicking Off A New Year of Goals

We’re a couple of weeks into the new year, and in my experience, that’s when those iron-clad resolutions start losing a bit of their strength. New year’s resolutions are hard to keep, and that’s why I refuse to make them.

Instead, I think of my life a series of EVOLUTIONS. It was recommended to me by a friend who’s also a psychologist, and trust me, it’s a game changer. Tune in to today’s episode to find out how to implement this perspective in YOUR life.

For more ideas on how to EVOLVE in 2020 check out this blog post.

 

Have a Happy, Healthy Halloween!

Dressing up and celebrating Halloween can be fun for kids, and adults, but it can also be unhealthy for your body and the environment!

Consider these tips this year:

Have fun and walk with your kids!

When my sons were younger I sometimes saw parents driving slowly while their children trick or treated. If you are injured and this is absolutely necessary, I totally understand. But if you can walk I’m going to suggest that you do! Move your body a little and appreciate the fresh air. It’s also much more entertaining!

Give Treats You Would Like Your Children to Receive

Enough said.

Create a Low-Impact Costume

Rather than buying a new costume every year, get creative with items you already own, swap with friends, or shop the local resale shop.

Be Mindful of Toxic Chemicals

Most makeup, face paint, and coloured hairsprays contain ingredients that do not support healthy bodies. Even though you might argue “it’s only once a year” I’m still going to remind you there are alternatives! Get creative and have fun with costumes without using chemicals that don’t belong on your children’s skin, or that you wouldn’t want them to inhale.

Decorate Naturally

Grab pumpkins, gourds, hay bales from a local farm. Reuse decorations you have from previous years rather than purchasing disposable items every year that add to the landfill.

Have a Happy, Healthy Halloween!

It’s totally possible to have lots of fun this Halloween, while protecting your health and the environment. Hope you have a great one!

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of our blog posts!
If you’re more of a listener than a reader, you may prefer tuning into my Rock Your Health Podcast.
If you love conversation, reach out here, I’d love to hear from you!

Why I Love Looking After Pregnant Women

I so love all the growing bellies in my practice, supporting women though the physical and emotional journey of pregnancy. Many women love to see their Chiropractor during pregnancy because they find such relief, but the benefits to the growing baby are tremendous too, particularly given the rapid rate of growth that occurs during this time. It’s astonishing really! The human fetus will develop 7x more quickly than an infant. Due to this rapid growth, the fetus is most sensitive to bio-mechanical forces that can create pressure and lead to abnormal molding of the skull and surrounding supportive tissues.

One particular study looked at the changes in the spine of breech babies, and in the 6000 cases that were reviewed here is what was found:

  • 42% developed postural scoliosis
  • 20-25% torticollis
  • 50% hip dislocation

Conservative Chiropractic care during pregnancy may prevent or decrease the possible occurrence of constraint, which allows for freedom of movement within the uterus so that the baby can position properly during this period of rapid growth, and so the mom to be can feel as comfortable as possible too!

Disclaimer: Chiropactic is not a treatment or cure for in utero abnormalities or developmental issues.

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of our blog posts!
If you’re more of a listener than a reader, you may prefer tuning into my Rock Your Health Podcast.
If you love conversation, reach out here, I’d love to hear from you!

Ice Or Heat? What’s Best?

The best answer to this common question is “It depends on your injury”.  

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing response and is actually a positive reaction. With any injury, tissues are damaged, and your body adapts by sending more blood to the injury site. With this increased blood supply, inflammatory cells such as leukocytes and macrophages get to work releasing proteins which clean up and heal the injured site. The area is tender and sore, (which is a reminder for you to be gentle using it!) but your body is effectively trying to repair the damaged area. Keep in mind though, inflammation and pain is your body’s way of telling you to stop and take action. The purpose of inflammation needs to be respected because essentially it is a protective response from the body to prevent you from doing further damage to yourself.

When you apply ice to an injury, the blood vessels constrict, temporarily limiting the blood flow to the injured site. The cold temperature inhibits the pain response, so although ice can often provided some pain relief, it can also delay healing.

When you apply heat to an area, the blood flow increases which can help deliver more oxygen and nutrients to a more chronic problem and support healing. However, for this reason, too much heat can also contribute to further inflammation. Applying heat can help with muscle aches, pains and general stiffness but should never be applied to a new injury or an area that is painful or swollen

So what should you do?

Again, it depends on the injury. If you have a new injury such as a strain or sprain, and you feel you need some pain relief, applying an ice pack is a good option to provide temporary relief (certainly what I recommend more than taking a muscle relaxant or ibuprofen) and it will help the healing process.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose a chemical ice pack, bag of frozen vegetables, ziploc bag with ice cubes in it, and protect your skin by placing clothing or towel between you and the pack
  • 10min on/10min off cycles throughout the day (NOT consistently, your body needs breaks to effectively use the therapeutic benefits. When you apply ice to the injured area you will either feel relief or mild discomfort due to the cold. Often the sensations you feel with icing is pain-tingling-numbness. Once the ice is removed at the 10 minute mark, the area should be numb. The body will then react to re-warm the area with gentle blood flow to supply the tissues with oxygen and nutrients. This reaction will not occur if the ice is left on too long.
  • Ideally ice should be applied as soon as possible after injury, and in cycles for the first 72 hours of acute trauma.

Remember, the body knows best! As far as healing goes it’s best to let inflammation run its course.   This will take time, perhaps even longer than you would like, but ultimately you will be rewarded with improved and more complete recovery.

Chiropractic & Concussion Management

As a chiropractor and parent I’m happy we now have more information about diagnosing, treating, and most importantly preventing concussions.  I’ve witnessed the effects of it when my oldest son suffered a mild concussion while playing hockey. During his evaluation with our family physician after his hit, when we discussed protocol for managing his recovery, the first thing our physician said was “I hope you’re planning to adjust him”. With both my son’s parents being Chiropractors, you can bet we were!

Why is spinal care important when there is a concussion?

If you watch any footage from sporting injuries, with any hit to the head there is often a twisting of the neck that also occurs. It’s impossible for the head to move any direction without any movement of the neck, try it! All the rotation and side to side bending we have in our necks comes from the upper spinal joints.

With any concussion the impact to head is what is of major concern, and rightly so! Your brain is the most important organ in your body, always responding to the needs of your body and coordinating many functions simultaneously.   However, the importance of assessing the vertebrae in the upper neck cannot be forgotten, and many experts like Dr. Ted Carrick (who I’ve been fortunate to do some training with) agree that including appropriate spinal care is a key to recovery.

After a hit to the head, many internal systems can be challenged, and in many cases the vestibular system (balance and coordination) can be affected. When your body’s position sense is disrupted, the brain will adapt by trying to keep things level, and in doing so there will be subtle shifts in the position of the neck and head as a biomechanical  consequence, which creates added strain on surrounding joints and all the associated muscles.

The body is a self regulating organism, and if the sense of position balance is disrupted, the nervous system will compensate for something being innately wrong by changing the head posture so that it feels like things are still level. This changes the alignment of the vertebrae in the neck and causes reduced movement of the spinal joints, which can then create secondary problems such as neck stiffness and pain. I see this all the time in people in my practice, whether they’ve had a concussion or a minor impact, or sometimes even just because of chronic postures, faulty ergonomics, sleeping positions, and high levels of stress.

If someone you care about suffers a concussion, consider adding chiropractic care to their recovery protocol. Addressing the movement of the spinal joints will reduce the effects of the brain injury on the surrounding tissues and muscles, minimize their symptoms, and promote full recovery. 

Need help? Get in touch!

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for brain injury or trauma.

New Parent Posture!

Are you dealing with ‘new parent posture’? Your new baby arrives in the world, and for the first few months you spend many hours feeding them, rocking them to sleep, and staring down at them lovingly while they are in your arms. Then, after a few weeks of this consistent posture, you find yourself with some pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders. Sound familiar?

I call this “momma posture” but I know many dads that also can relate to this!

Truth is, physically there isn’t much difference between staring down at your phone or laptop and staring down at the newest addition to your family!

The posture is the same, which results in a tremendous amount of strain on the muscles in your neck and the associated vertebra in both your cervical and thoracic spine.  Here are a few tips to help minimize this strain for you:

Switch arms when holding baby. This is good for you and good for them! Your arms will get a rest, and you’ll develop strength in both arms in this position. Your child will also benefit in that their vision, hearing and sense of body position (think brain development) will also get stimulation from both directions.   Carry your baby right from the beginning so that you easily develop strength to hold them as they progressively gain weight. *Read this blog post on why  babies should be in their car seats only when travelling.

Use a variety of slings and carriers. I’m a huge fan of baby-wearing because it’s good for a child’s physical and emotional development, but also because in my experience it can make life as a parent easier! With your child securely attached to you your hands are free to hold the hand of another child, pick up your groceries, fold laundry, work on your laptop, or do anything else! Using different types of carriers minimizes the repetitive strain on your spine and shoulders and will help prevent injuries. When choosing a carrier there is always 1 specific guideline I give all parents watch this video

Stretch your neck and shoulders! When not looking down at your child, think about reversing the position of your neck. Tilt your head forward and back, turn your head side to side, roll your shoulders in circles forward and back, and hold your hands behind your back and open up your chest for a really great stretch. Doing these moves will help break up the repetitive strain on the muscles in your neck, upper arms and shoulders to compensate for forward postures. .

Cold Water Immersion & Your Health

When cold showers were first mentioned to me as a supportive health practice, my first reaction was “NO WAY”. Like you might be feeling reading this, the thought of being cold was not something that excited me, but at the time I was recovering from an acute muscle strain and I was open to whatever would help me heal the fastest. Now I’m converted.

In addition to supporting your cardiovascular health, regular cold water immersion give you these added benefits:

 

Improves Lymphatic Circulation – Your lymphatic system is an effective network of vessels that essentially cleans up the waste in your body. Unlike your cardiovascular system though, there is no ‘pump’ to keep lymphatic fluids moving well. Your body instead relies on the effective contractions of muscles to support this function (yes this is why you need to be moving your body everyday too).  Cold water immersion helps this process because it causes your lymph vessels to contract, forcing your lymphatic system to pump lymph fluids throughout your body, essentially flushing the waste out of the area. This then triggers the immune system’s white blood cells to attack and destroy any unwanted substance in the fluid. By supporting the lymphatic drainage you’re supporting your immune system, which supports your overall health.

Reduces Muscle Inflammation – When you exercise and push your body to gain additional strength, endurance and power, you’ll develop microscopic tears in your muscles in the process. When the body goes into repair mode you’ll gain new muscle, but the process often involves some soreness known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is normal, but not fun. Cold water immersion has been scientifically shown to help counteract this. Since I’ve been doing cold showers after intense training sessions, the amount of DOMS I experience during recovery has dramatically decreased. This is also something I recommend when people are dealing with an acute injury. Similar to using an ice pack to help control the amount of inflammation, cold water immersion lowers the temperature of the damaged tissue and constricts the blood vessels, which reduces swelling and inflammation. It also temporarily numbs the nerve endings so you’ll feel less pain, which is much better for your body than taking a muscle relaxant or anti-inflammatory medication. If you love physical training, or if you’re dealing with an acute injury, cold water immersion will facilitate faster recovery.

Boosts happiness – I will admit, what keeps me taking cold showers is how great I feel afterwards! Invigorated, energized, and completely refreshed anytime of day.  Cold water triggers a flood of mood-boosting neurotransmitters in your brain, which makes you feel happier. It’s even been shown to be an excellent supportive practice to help reduce symptoms of depression. The science explaining what happens in your body is fascinating, you can read more about it in this article here.

Supports Weight Loss – While nothing replaces healthy clean eating and consistent exercise, consistent cold water immersion boosts your metabolism because your body needs to work harder to keep you warm, burning calories in the process.

If there is ever a season to give this a try, it’s summer!

It’s a great way to beat the heat and quickly cool your body temperature, with so many other added benefits to support your overall health.