Monthly Archives: September 2014

Enterovirus D68: Separating Fact from Fiction

Many parents are concerned about the dangers of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) due to how the media is covering the virus.Enterovirus D68 - Sick Little Girl

Enterovirus D68 is a virus that has not been widespread in the past. This year it is spreading more rapidly. I felt compelled to share the facts about this virus because I keep seeing information shared that is not 100% factual. Let’s separate the fact from the fiction and hopefully set some parents’ minds at ease.

Important Facts About Enterovirus D68

Here are important facts about Enterovirus D68:

  • EV-D68 was originally identified in 1962. Since then, there have only been small outbreaks, most of which rarely spread across state lines. This year’s outbreak has spread rapidly, possibly because very few children have developed immunity to Entervirus D68 due to never having been exposed. Most adults are not affected, as they have developed resistance (from exposure to other viruses) that provides protection. Enteroviruses are usually most active between July – October, so the current spread is in line with normal occurrences.
  • The CDC confirmed cases of EV-D68 in 22 states as of September 19. It is important to note that the number of confirmed cases (160) is small because most children infected with EV-D68 do not need medical attention and are therefore not tested. Hospitals only recently began testing for this specific virus since the likelihood of it being the cause of breathing problems was almost nonexistent until recently.
  • No deaths have occurred from the virus so far.
  • Most children who become ill have nothing more than typical cold and flu symptoms. Few children wind up being hospitalized, and most don’t even need to see a doctor.
  • The virus is closely related to hand, foot and mouth disease. It shares some of the same symptoms, although EV-D68 may have a stronger effect on the lungs and usually does not cause a fever. Children who have had hand, foot and mouth disease seem to have less likelihood of contracting EV-D68 or from having serious symptoms.
  • Ninety percent of the children hospitalized had pre-existing asthma or other upper-respiratory diseases or conditions that weakened their immunity.
  • Enterovirus D68 is a virus. Antibiotics are ineffective against it, and there is no known cure. Mainstream treatments focus on lessening the symptoms. Those with serious symptoms are put on supplemental oxygen, given breathing treatments, or – in extreme cases – put on a respirator to aid breathing until the virus runs its course.

Typical Symptoms of Enterovirus D68

The typical indicators of Enterovirus D68 include, but may not be limited to:

  • Runny nose, cough, sneezing, etc.
  • Body aches 
  • Mouth sores or blisters (do not occur in every case, but are possible)
  • Fever (unusual in this season’s outbreak) 

Extreme cases may include the following symptoms, each of which requires immediate medical intervention:

  • Fever above 103 degrees F. 
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty in breathing:  Difficult breathing is not always easy to recognize. Look for extremely rapid, shallow breathing, with breaths occurring more frequently than one per second. Watch your child’s ribs. If you can visibly see the skin being “sucked in” between the ribs with each breath, that is an indicator medical intervention is needed immediately. 
  • Continuous coughing 
  • If you notice any of the above symptoms, please call your physician or take your child to the emergency room immediately. Call 911 if your child is unconscious, has blue lips, or other severe symptoms.

Protective Measures Against Enterovirus D68

Enteroviruses are all relatively hardy and can live for quite a while on surfaces. The virus is carried in body fluids, mucus, snot, etc. Potential ways to lessen the likelihood of the virus include:

  • You know the drill – frequent hand washing, teaching children to sneeze and cough into their elbows, etc. There is no need to use antibacterial soaps. ALL soap is antibacterial. The chemicals in antibacterial products are known to be dangerous and should be avoided.
  • Making a spray using 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of alcohol, 40 drops of tea tree oil, 40 drops of lavender essential oil and 40 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil. Blend well and keep in a glass spray bottle. Spray on counters, door knobs, faucets, etc. to help kill viral cells.
  • Give your children Vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the most powerful immunity boosters known. Most children over age two need a minimum of 1000 IUs per day for maximum immunity. This is especially true if you live in a climate that prevents daily sun exposure. There is no need to worry about toxicity at this dose. For more information about Vitamin D, read: Twenty Surprising Facts About Vitamin D.
  • Taking Vitamin C throughout the virus and flu season is known to reduce infection rates. Follow the instructions on the bottle for dosage, but know it’s safe to double the recommended dose at the first sign of a cold or flu. I recommend continuing the double dose until symptoms abate. 
  • Use Elderberry Syrup if you suspect your child has caught a virus. Elderberry is an extremely powerful antiviral that is known to be effective against the enterovirus. It can also be taken as an immunity booster prior to illness, but I would definitely use it at the first sign of a cold or virus. It tastes great, so getting children to take it is nice and easy.
  • If your child has asthma or any other chronic illness, discuss and create a care plan with your physician prior to illness. Keep the plan handy and be ready to implement it immediately when illness occurs. 
  • If your child catches what appears to be a cold but symptoms rapidly worsen or your mother’s instinct insists something is wrong, call your physician. Take your child to the emergency room or call 911 if symptoms become severe.

The good news about the virus is that we are hopefully nearing the end of its “season.” Higher number of cases also mean we now have higher immunity throughout the country. 

Has your child dealt with Enterovirus D68? What were your experiences?

Natural Approaches to Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a viral illness that is spreading like wildfire this year. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is Baby with Hand, Foot and Mouth Diseaserarely serious, but it is extremely unpleasant and highly contagious. (HFMD is not related to Hoof and Mouth Disease, an illness that only affects animals.) Caused by the Coxsackie A virus, HFMD usually only affects children under the age of five. Many children are exposed but never have any symptoms because their body naturally vanquishes the virus. Those who become ill may experience a wide variety of different symptoms. The virus is extremely contagious, typically spread by mucus, liquid from sores and feces.

Potential Symptoms

The typical case of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease may include:

  • A fever, usually below 102 degrees F
  • Fatigue and generally feeling unwell
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea (not always)
  • Sores in the mouth and throat (usually appear two to three days after the initial symptoms.) Sores may also be visible on the tonsils.
  • Red bumps that do not itch but may be sore. The bumps usually turn into blisters that weep fluid. HFMD is often confused with Chicken Pox due to these bumps. The bumps usually appear first on the hands and feet, but can appear anywhere on the body.

Natural Options

It is important to note that Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is caused by a virus. Antibiotics will not help. The mainstream approach is to soothe the symptoms and let the virus run its course. There are natural approaches that will bring relief and which are said to shorten the duration of the virus. My favorites include:

  • Clove Tea:  Cloves have a numbing effect. A tea made from one tablespoon of cloves and one cup or more of purified water will be very soothing to sores in the mouth. An added benefit is that cloves are also mildly antibacterial and antiviral. The tea may be drunk warm or cold. Add a bit of stevia or honey to sweeten if needed. Several of my clients have said clove tea was a lifesaver while their child had HFMD.
  • Elderberry Syrup:  Elderberry syrup is one of the most potent antiviral agents known. An added benefit is that it tastes good, so getting kids to take it is not difficult. Follow the instructions on the bottle to determine how much to give your child. If you have more than one child but only one is sick, the other children can be given Elderberry Syrup as an immunity booster even if they are not visibly ill.
  • Homeopathic Mercurius Solubis:  This remedy is known to help reduce the pain of the mouth sores and to be especially good to help children sleep at night. Homeopathics are a nice option because they have no side effects and do not interact with any prescription medications. They are very potent and very easy to take. Follow the dosage recommended on the bottle. (Dosage should be cut in half for children under 1 year of age, but the tiny tablets can be dissolved in water if needed.) To maintain their effectiveness, homeopathic remedies should not be administered within 10 minutes of eating or drinking anything other than water, and should not be given within an hour of brushing the teeth if a toothpaste with mint is used. (The mint blocks the body’s ability to absorb the homeopathic remedy.) You have my permission to stop brushing teeth while the child has mouth sores, as the experience may be extremely traumatic and painful.
  • Potent Broths:  Some children are unwilling to eat and drink while they have HFMD due to the sores in their mouth. Giving them nutrient-rich broths is an easy way to boost immunity while providing nutrients and keeping the child hydrated. Since salt will sting, try to make your own salt-free broths using organic bones, organic veggies, garlic and onions, rosemary, turmeric, thyme, etc. (Each of those ingredients is known to help boost immunity.) Adding some organic coconut oil will help coat the sores and be soothing. Coconut oil is known to be mildly antiviral, so it’s a win-win.
  • Good Ol’ Vitamin C:  Vitamin is known to help the body heal tissues and is known to boost immunity. If using a liquid Vitamin C, you may need to dilute it to help the liquid not sting. If only one of your children has HFMD, it makes sense to give your other children Vitamin C while the sick child is contagious.
  • Soothing Baths:  A soothing bath that is warm but not overly hot may help children calm down before bed and is known to help the body eliminate toxins. Helpful additives during HFMD include Lavender Essential Oil (5-10 drops), 1/2-1 cup Epsom Salts, 1/2 cup coconu oil, 1 cup of Bentonite Clay, 1 cup of Baking Soda, 1 cup of Chamomile and/or Calendula petals, etc.

Stopping the Spread

Unfortunately, Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is most contagious 3-5 days before any symptoms appear. After the symptoms appear, the virus may be spread for up to two weeks. Families with multiple children obviously want to take care to avoid having the entire family wind up sick. The following options are good for helping prevent the spread of HFMD:

  • If possible, dress the sick child in long sleeves and pants to help prevent exposing others to the liquid in the sores. Try to find soft-soled flannel slippers or booties to cover the feet.
  • Blend 1 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of Vodka. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons Tea Tree Oil and 1/2 teaspoon Lavender Essential Oil. Place the blend in a spray bottle and spray everywhere! Spray on toys, counters, doorknobs, etc.
  • Make children wash hands frequently. (See Hand Sanitizer Alternatives for recipes to make your own toxin-free hand sanitizer.)
  • Don’t allow children to share utensils, water bottles, etc. (I know this is obvious, but figured it was worth mentioning.)
  • Wash bedding as soon as you realize your child has HFMD. Wash bedding again after HFMD has run its course.
  • Throw your child’s toothbrush away and replace it with a new one after HFMD is gone.
  • Contact your child’s school or daycare center to find out what their policy is on when the child can return.

Has your family dealt with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease? What approaches did you find to be the most effective?

Easy Ways to Improve Digestion

Digestion has been called the foundation of health. It is important to improve digestion using simple techniques. This is because our body uses the Improve Digestionnutrients absorbed during digestion as “building blocks” to maintain every cell, tissue and organ in the body. Poor digestion and absorption can cause many problems and often creates higher levels of disease and dysfunction.

Digestive issues are rising at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, the symptoms of poor digestion are not always limited to the digestive tract. When poor digestion leads to nutrient deficiencies, symptoms may manifest in any body system. This means vague symptoms may be indirectly related to poor digestion and absorption. As always, determining the root cause of physical challenges is imperative. It is almost impossible to improve digestion without knowing the root cause of the challenge.

There are a few very simple steps you can take to improve digestion. As always, discuss these with your physician and/or practitioner before making any changes to your current lifestyle habits.

Practices that can improve digestion include:

  • Chewing Better:  Grandma knew what she was talking about when she encouraged you to chew every bite 20 times. We live in a world where people inhale their food. Chewing it thoroughly creates a “slurry” the stomach and intestines can digest and absorb much more easily. Chewing well is the first step you can use to improve digestion.
  • Not Drinking More than 6 Ounces of Liquid With Meals:  Your stomach performs poorly when overfilled. Diluting the digestive enzymes puts a strain on the small colon, as it may cause undigested food to pass from the stomach into the small colon. Making sure food is adequately digested before passing out of the stomach is an important step to improve digestion. Drinking too much liquid while eating dilutes digestive enzymes and also overfills the stomach. Overfilling the stomach can lead to heartburn when food and liquid are forced up into the esophagus during the digestive churning that is normal for the stomach. 
  • Exercising Regularly:  All forms of exercise positively impact the muscles of the digestive tract, enabling them to do their job more efficiently. Exercise also stimulates the muscles of the colon, allowing wastes to move more easily. Many people notice a need to have a bowel movement immediately following a workout. There’s a good reason for that!
  • Standing Up Straight:  It’s such a simple change, but standing up straight and maintaining good posture – especially immediately following a meal – can have a strongly improve digestion. When we slump, the digestive organs get squished together and may not be able to function efficiently. Standing or sitting erect takes the pressure off and allows the digestive tract to work better. You may also notice you have less back pain and have more energy, as good posture makes it easier to breathe deeply and reduces strain off the neck and back.
  • Eating Purposefully:  In other words, taking time to sit down and eat in a relaxed environment and state of mind. Easier said than done in this crazy world, but taking time to enjoy a relaxed meal has a positive impact on digestion and absorption. Stress negatively impacts the stomach’s production of stomach acid and the digestive tract’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Purposefully taking time to eat slowly and to enjoy every bite is a powerful way to improve digestion.
  • Staying Hydrated:  In a perfect world, we would each drink half our body weight in ounces of water every day. One of the results of staying hydrated is that our digestive tract works more smoothly and is able to more efficiently eliminate waste. Staying hydrated allows the body to keep waste moistened so it moves through the digestive tract more easily.
  • Eating Real Food, Not Processed Chemicals:  It’s a simple truth that our digestive systems were not designed to recognize and digest food additives such as artificial colorants, chemical preservatives, etc. Switching from a diet of processed foods to natural food often has a dramatically positive effect on digestion and absorption. Our body most easily digests and absorbs real food that it easily recognizes.
  • Getting Help When Needed:  The factors mentioned above can improve digestion but are usually not enough to restore normal digestion when the digestive tract is not working properly. If your digestion is not what it should be, please seek the guidance of a trained professional. Restoring digestion is often the first step to restoring wellness in other areas of the body.

You’ll notice I did not list any supplements. There are a wide variety of supplements that can benefit digestion, especially for someone with digestive challenges, but I chose to stick to lifestyle changes in this article.

Have you ever dealt with digestive challenges? What helped you improve your issues?