Acknowledging Your Child’s Symptoms: Colic, Constipation, and Growing Pains

In this week’s episode of Integrative Wellness Radio, Dr. Nicole Rivera and functional nutritionist Brooke Scheller discuss common symptoms that your child may be experiencing that may be a sign of an underlying imbalance or infection. Your childs digestive complaints, colic, food allergies, and even growing pains may be a sign to look deeper. Learn more with our functional medicine team by scheduling a free-15 minute strategy call today!

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Hey everyone. It's Dr. Nicole and Brooke Scheller here from Integrative Wellness Group. You are listening to Integrative Wellness Radio. Today we're going to be talking to you about some of the different symptoms that you might be seeing in your kids, everywhere from being an infant and maybe dealing with colic all the way into maybe getting into being a toddler or even just a young child between the age of five and 10 that are dealing with some level of growing pains, which then maybe also leads into playing sports and dealing with some level of sports injuries or recurring strains, sprains, etc.

I think a lot of these things we usually just deem as normal. We really want to go through and be able to elaborate a little bit further on some of these occurrences or symptoms that may be popping up and the different things that you want to rule in or rule out so that you're covering all your bases and making sure that your child is going to get the best care possible if it's necessary.

Brooke Scheller: [00:02:00] I think this is a great topic because a lot of clients will come in and they might even say to us, if we're looking at the results and we're seeing old infections or we're seeing different bacteria or viruses and things that are in their system, a lot of these things are going to reappear in their life later on. They're going to come to us and say, "How did I get all of this in my body?"

I always explain to them that we're looking at years and years and years of being exposed to different things. A lot of times that starts all the way, even in childhood or in utero that we get exposed to different chemicals or different bacteria, different infections. Oftentimes they don't necessarily fully leave our body. They might hang around at lower levels and maybe appear later on in life. There's definitely a lot of things that in childhood we deem as being "normal", even things, like we mentioned, like constipation. They go to their doctor and says, "Let's use a low dose of MiraLAX or something like that and not necessarily thinking that there might be something underlying.

We wanted to give you a little bit of information on some of this today and how you can best arm yourself and your children for long, healthy lives.

Dr. Nicole Rivera: I think the best place to start is, like you mention, in utero because some people listening might be curious as to what we're talking about. One of the really interesting things is mom will actually pass a bulk of different types of infections as well as different types of chemicals to their firstborn, especially, but really to all of their children. If there is some level of a chronic infection, regardless of if it's been diagnosed or not, especially different infections that reside in the gastrointestinal system, so different types of bacterial overgrowth as well as even yeast overgrowth, parasite infections, these will be passed through the placenta, so these will be passed to the baby. This is one of the major reasons why children or infants, I'm sorry, would be dealing with some level of colic. They might be dealing with some level of food allergies or some type of digestive issues, if it is going to be more of the loose bowel movements, or if it's going to be constipation.

Brooke Scheller: Even skin manifestations, things like eczema or rashes in children as well.

Dr. Nicole Rivera:[00:04:30] Definitely, and hives as well. What's interesting is 80% of mom's heavy metals and infections are actually passed to the first born. I always thank my mom for all the mercury that she game me. For all of you listening and maybe thinking like, "Heavy metals, why in the world would I ever be exposed to those or why would I have those in my system," but as an example, mercury is what's primarily in those silver fillings that they were using more so in the past, but putting into our teeth for cavities. Then we also have mercury in fish and aluminum is in most of our antiperspirants that we're using on a day to day basis. All of us have exposure if you know it or not and it's definitely something that can really be passed to the baby and start them off with a weaker immune system.

This is actually important to understand because we actually did a podcast about just educating on when to vaccinate and when to not, and it's more so just giving women feedback. If you did have a lot of trouble getting pregnant, it could about due to these infections and these toxins that we're talking about. If your child is pretty much an infant and dealing with these skin manifestations, they're dealing with food allergies, they're dealing with some level of digestive discomfort or they're dealing with colic, or you're dealing with colic I should say, you might need to consider that this baby has some kind of infection right off the bat and not ... The vaccination might be really, really stressful on their immune system considering the immune system is already stressed.

Brooke Scheller: I think it's really important to understand that a lot of times there are really simple, natural fixes to these things. If there is some type of imbalance within their GI system, especially as a baby, you might be able to use a probiotic or something really simple to repair and restore that digestive balance. The trouble is, I think, later on in life that it could get a little more progressive, that maybe now they're experiencing more major food sensitivities or now they're having more serious skin irritations or psoriasis is developing and different things like that, or even autoimmune conditions, which now we're starting to see in young children as well.

Dr. Nicole Rivera: Yeah, and I think it's really important to understand that the gastrointestinal system is one of your major avenues of detoxification. If you're a person that says, "I've had constipation most of my life," then that really means that your body is not able to detox and it's not able to get rid of the things that we get exposed to on a day to day. Unfortunately, it's just the way that it is with the types of foods that we're eating that not only contain chemicals if they're prepackaged, because there are all different types of preservatives, but we're also dealing with pesticides and herbicides even on our fresh food, our produce. Then, on top of that, there's all different types of chemicals that are in the air and in the water, and that's really just due to some of the things we do to clean our water to protect us from some bad bacteria. There's a lot of different chemical companies, plastic companies, that are pumping a lot of different things into the air.

[00:07:30] The moral of the story is we're all getting exposed to stuff. It's really just a matter of helping our bodies to make sure that all avenues of detoxification are working. When constipation is in the mix, you or your child are not eliminating properly and you're not detoxifying, which is what is going to lead to some of the things that Brooke mentioned.

Brooke Scheller: Going through the life span, we've talked a little bit about infancy and babies just being born. Let's talk about the daycare age because I think that a lot of children start to develop new or maybe different types of systems around that time and maybe constipation starts to play a role then. This will range, I guess, depending on the age your child goes into daycare, but daycare is definitely a place where children are being exposed to a lot of different bacteria or things there. Let's talk a little bit more about what might be in the mix there.

Dr. Nicole Rivera: Yeah, definitely. What's interesting is for a period of time, when we were doing testing on a lot of our patients, and especially our younger patients, being either toddlers or even up to age 10, and we were finding parasites consistently in these children. Obviously, we're taking a history and finding out if mom has digestive complaints and maybe it came from there. Commonly we were finding something called Giardia. If you look up Giardia, it's known as traveler's diarrhea. It doesn't make a lot of sense as to why a child would have it. What they're finding is that in places where there is diaper changing, so daycares as a prime example, they're finding that the transmission of these different types of parasites or even bacterial infections is happening. It's happening because proper sanitation is not happening by the person changing the diaper but, unfortunately, some of these parasites, bacteria, are also resistant to some of these cleaning agents that we're using, and it's really just because the use of antibiotics has gotten so prevalent and a lot of ... We've created almost super bugs because of that.

Sometimes the hand washes and Lysol wipes that we're using are just not even working as well as we've hoped for, so if you do have a child who had a very normal digestive tract and they had no problems with colic and they did great with either their breastfeeding or their bottle feeding, then all of a sudden they're around that age that they're starting to spend more times in daycares and you're starting to notice that they're talking about belly aches or they're talking about they're not going to the bathroom, they're going to the bathroom too much, that is a key sign that they might have contracted something from a daycare.

Brooke Scheller: Something that lights up in my mind is the stomach bug. How often do you hear a woman talk about, "Oh, the stomach bug went around my house," or, "My child came home from school with a stomach bug."

We think one day you get a little bit of digestive upset, maybe you're vomiting, maybe there's nausea, maybe there's downwards symptoms, and we write it off as normal and move on, but for a lot of people, that becomes a trigger for symptoms later on in life. For example, I have a client who has ulcerative colitis and she mentions that her symptoms began within a few months of having a "stomach bug". Whether that was the first area of transmission, maybe she was exposed to something earlier on, or if that really presented some type of parasite or specific bacteria that started to trigger the symptoms.

Dr. Nicole Rivera: I think it's really key that you say that because people equate food poisoning, which is the transmission of some type of organism, and they equate that to obviously I went out to dinner, I got sick immediately. A lot of times when we are getting exposed to these different types of bugs, again if they're bacterial or if they're parasitic, it's not always, it doesn't always move along in that pattern, that you go out to eat and you eat something wrong and you're sick immediately. We automatically think, or we're told, that it's viral or it's a stomach bug.

The thing is is with parasite transmission nowadays, unfortunately, it's too easy. We can get exposed with water that we're drinking. We can get exposed by going to a friend's house. We can get exposed by sharing a drink with someone. There's a lot more levels of exposure than people may realize, so it's not ... It can definitely get very confusing and just be pawned off as a stomach bug or a virus.

Brooke Scheller: What would you recommend for someone who maybe their child experienced something like this while being in daycare in terms of testing and all that?

Dr. Nicole Rivera: With testing, one of the best tests to do is something, or a stool sample. A stool sample is going to give some information about different types of bacterial overgrowth, any type of yeast or molds. Then it also can give information on parasites as well. There are certain companies that are more effective at diagnosing parasites than others, so that's helpful when you're working with the right physician because they're going to guide you along the right way.

One of the other things that we always do to piggyback off of the stool sample is we do something called autonomic response testing. What that does is it goes through all the different avenues of the gastrointestinal system and we're able to actually target exactly where the infection is because it's very unlikely that the infection is spread between the actual stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestine. If you know specifically where the infection is most abundant, you can be really, really specific on your treatment.

We'll do a combination of different types of supplements that would be either anti-parasitic or they would be anti-bacteria, etc. We also do laser therapy to target infections as well. Then we also do, we create, actually, very specific laser charged concoctions that will target these infections as well. We actually usually program frequencies into different types of water solutions. They're very, very effective at cleaning these things out. They could be either you can drink them or you can actually do them in an enema form as well.

Brooke Scheller: I always tell people, too, that parasites in stool testing, it's difficult to cultivate them in stool because they really don't want to leave. They're really nice and warm and well fed in there, so they don't typically leave. On thing, it's kind of a silly side effect or symptom of parasites, but around the full moon they do become more active. A lot of times you might even notice that your child even acts out more around the full moon, and you say, "Oh, he's just being crazy around the full moon," but if you notice maybe changes in their mood or changes in their behavior patterns ...

Dr. Nicole Rivera: Or their stomach gets worse.

Brooke Scheller: Or their stomach gets worse around that time, that could give you a little bit more insight as well.

Dr. Nicole Rivera: Definitely, and parasites, and I'm glad that you brought up the symptoms because some people might be wondering what does this actually look like in my child, but I would say shifting into loose bowel movements, even if it's very occasional, like they eat the wrong thing or you eat out, that is a very common symptom and as well as the behavioral changes, especially around the full moon, and then fining more irritability, especially around those times of the full moon. Those are some key symptoms to really keep in mind.

Brooke Scheller: Let's shift now into children getting a little bit older and talking more about this growing pain type of symptom.

Dr. Nicole Rivera: [00:15:30] Yeah, definitely. There's a lot of people that we work with that they report that they went through some pretty significant growing pains when they were young and they were recommended some type of therapy. Some people have been recommended high doses of aspirin. The treatment definitely varies. With that being said, when I start to hear that feedback from someone and I ask them specifically what was the location of the body that they felt it the most, a lot of times they're reporting the knees and the hips. That's pretty much a telltale symptom of a bacterial infection called Borrelia, which is what we technically call Lyme Disease.

When somebody is dealing with that level of growing pains that it really impeded their function and it was significant enough for them to remember it or seek out treatment, there's always that suspicion that Lyme could be in the system and completely missed. This is what's very interesting about Lyme. It's usually not going to be the first thought of your physician. It's not necessarily going to be, "Okay, we 100% need to check for Lyme," but even trickier beyond that, if you do have a physician that's, "Let's rule this in or rule this out," the typically blood test that is offered is not always going to pick up on the Lyme and it's primarily because the specific bacteria that we're talking about is burrowed in the joints. It's burrowed in the connective tissue of the joints. Connective tissue is really just the tissue that connects your joints.

If it's burrowed in those areas, it's not in the blood and it's very unlikely that the blood test is going to show positive. This also gets very confusing for people, and it can be missed. This is definitely something that's really important to consider, because if your child is dealing with significant levels of joint pain and then also they start playing sports or just being active in general and they're all of a sudden getting injured a lot and they're tearing and straining and spraining and it's just this never ending thing that keeps happening, you have to understand that Lyme may be playing a role in their system and it's also because if the bacteria is in the connective tissue, it also weakens it, so it sets them up to be injured a lot easier. It also, it really impedes their recovery as well.

If they sprain their ankle and it's two, three month later and they're, "Oh, my ankle. It still hurts. It still bothers me. It's still not stable," then this could be a telltale that this could potentially be something more than just a growing pain or a sports injury and really doing the proper testing and acknowledging the symptoms is so important.

Brooke Scheller: Yeah, and it's so interesting, too, because I feel like as you were talking about all these symptoms, I think back in my head. Oh, I had a friend that got injured in Lacrosse all the time or I'm thinking back to all these different things. When you really think about the importance, as a child or a teenager or however old your children are, we almost think, "Ah, well, you know, they're growing. They can handle it. It's no big deal." We almost write it off like no biggie. The bigger issue is that five, 10, 15, 20, or more years from now they might now be set up for maybe worsening of symptoms if they have something like chronic Lyme or worsening of their digestive systems and maybe the development of autoimmune conditions or different other types of diagnoses.

Dr. Nicole Rivera: I think it becomes a snowball effect. If you have this teenager that all of a sudden is really struggling from a social or an emotional standpoint, they're dealing with anxiety, they're finding themselves getting angry, irritable, they're really tired, they have lack of motivation, they're still having low level achiness and joint pain, they're maybe even having headaches, these are some things that you need to consider that it might not be like okay, they're going through some stuff. They're going through puberty, school.

Brooke Scheller: Hormones.

Dr. Nicole Rivera: Yeah, hormones. It might be they literally have an infection in their body that is not supposed to be there and they don't feel well and they don't know how to translate that into words, especially because there's just a lot of social pressures and other things going on around them. It's definitely something that we see quite often and it's usually later in life when people are coming in with maybe that autoimmune condition or the migraines are so bad or the fatigue is so bad and the joints just hurt and they're not getting better no matter what they do, that's usually when they're finally getting diagnosed. It's definitely something to be aware of and to make sure that you're covering your bases because with especially the weakening of the soft tissue structures, you don't necessarily want to have a kid who is not functioning optimally but also dealing with injuries that could be prevented based off of removing this infection from their system.

Brooke Scheller: Lyme is something that's really interesting, too, because a lot of children are playing outside. If there is transmission via ticks, children might see something, pull it off, and maybe not even communicate that to mom or dad. Let's talk about maybe how they may get exposed to something like this.

Dr. Nicole Rivera: Lyme, the more and more research they're doing, they're realizing that it's really not just about tick exposure as well. Don't get me wrong. There are some kids that are playing outside and they've had some ticks on them in the past. They're finding that mosquitoes can be a culprit in the transmission and it is really because mosquitoes land on all different types of animals and they transfer blood. They are huge carriers for a variety of different things, viruses included. That's partly ... That's not really to scare you and have you just stay indoors. The biggest thing is if your immune system is strong, you don't have to worry about the transmission. It's just taking the proper precautions, but at the same time, one of the biggest culprits for the transmission of Lyme is from mom. It is passed through the placenta, so it is passed to the baby if mom does have Lyme in her system.

[00:22:30] What I tell people is most of the time, you will have zero symptoms. What happens is it gets to a certain point that something happens that burdens your immune system. Maybe, especially when you're talking about kids, maybe your kid has a lot of cavities. Then they go in and they get their silver fillings put in their teeth, which is mercury related. If they now have this huge burden on their immune system because they just got hit with a high dose of mercury, then all of a sudden they might start manifesting different symptoms. Again, it could be the achiness, it could be the joint pain, it could be the sports injuries. It's because now the Lyme was able to come to the surface and start wreaking more havoc than it normally would.

Another thing could be the vaccines. Primarily it's not necessarily the vaccines. It's more so the additives of the aluminum and mercury in the vaccines. If they do get a high dose or get many vaccines close together, that also can be a culprit for burdening the immune system. I would say the other big one is mold. If you're bringing home your child to a moldy home, if you know it or you don't, or you end up moving and it ends up having some level of mold in your new home, that is a big culprit that really, really affects the immune system in a negative way and it allows different symptoms to start coming to the surface. Don't get me wrong. Mold has its own symptoms in itself, but some of the symptoms can be related to different infections coming to the surface because the immune system is compromised.

Brooke Scheller: Well, also, mold in schools.

Dr. Nicole Rivera: Mold in schools as well, definitely.

Brooke Scheller: If you're listening and you're resonating with any of this and you're thinking you have a child that may be experiencing some of these symptoms, we would be more than happy to jump on a free 15 minute call with you and just discuss your situation, what's going on, and how we could be possibly able to help and what types of testing and support might be right for you. You can head over to to schedule that and we'll talk to you soon.

Dr. Nicole Rivera: Bye bye.