Childhood Asthma: Can Chiropractic Help?

Let’s examine what asthma is, why it may be on the rise and then we’ll talk about how chiropractic may help. And, yes, the answer is yes, it could help your child. Asthma is certainly one of those conditions that more and more children are experiencing at rates never before. Why is this?

There are many theories. Some have valid arguments and others are just self-serving notions from those wanting to take advantage of you seeking answers to help your child. It is a sad fact, but anywhere there is pain and misunderstanding, you’re sure to find people trying to take advantage of others.

childhood asthmaSo, before you go investing in the latest treatment protocol or some far-flung supplement or dietary approach that is going to cost you thousands of dollars, let’s outline some of the trends. There is still a lot that is not understood about childhood asthma.

Asthma Triggers

These are things that might cause or bring on an asthma attack. Environmental and genetic variables are the causes of asthma we study. Of the environmental factors, pollution, particulates and indoor air quality issues are most commonly cited. Genetic variables often just refer to the fact that others in the family have the condition, but little is offered in the way or reason for this mechanism.

We’ll focus on the asthma triggers that come from the environment or are related with ‘external’ changes that affect the child. Since the 1970s, cases of asthma have risen drastically. We’ve certainly faced much more in the way of global air quality issues and this can be traced to urban and suburban asthma cases rising. This works by affecting the airways and causing an immune response.

In fact, this is the way all of the asthma episodes unfold. First the trigger, then the immune response. Following this comes the constriction or tightening of the airways. Next comes the coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing due to the tightening in the chest.

The issue with the indoor air quality is one that has been given much more attention in the past decade or so. The whole green building movement and attention given this phenomenon of poor indoor air quality has really opened up this discussion further. Again, the same pathway of irritant or trigger leads to an immune response.

There is mixed data reflecting how pet dander or dust mites and the like can contribute to this phenomenon. In some cases, the studies show that maintaining a ‘zero tolerance’ for dust mites can lead to a lower incidence of attacks in those homes where a child is especially sensitive to the irritant. However, in other cases, having a pet during the first year of life has shown to be inversely related to childhood asthma later. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what is happening.

Some of these points we can only address by choosing where we live in the world, but we cannot control all elements of the world around us.

One other asthma factor that we can control is stress. Stress has been demonstrated to exacerbate asthma symptoms in children. This study demonstrated this. It goes on to say…

“For example, in an 18-month prospective study of children with asthma, the experience of an acute negative life event (e.g., death of a close family member) increased the risk of a subsequent asthma attack by nearly 2-fold (Sandberg et al., 2000). The impact of an acute negative event was accentuated when it occurred in the context of chronic stress. Children exposed to high levels of acute and chronic stress showed a 3-fold increase in risk for an attack in the two weeks that followed the acute event. Despite the recent empirical evidence linking stress with the clinical profile of asthma, much remains to be learned about the biological mechanisms underlying this phenomenon.”

Basically, stress affects your body’s immune response. Specifically, stress will alter how your body responds and how you will feel, what symptoms you may express, whether or not you develop pain, muscle spasms and a variety of other symptoms or diseases. This particular study focused on childhood asthma.

Chiropractic and Asthma

There have been more case studies than any formal types of clinically-controlled, blinded studies that show whether or not chiropractic can help with childhood asthma. The research is basically inconclusive on the matter, but the testimonials that offices around the world from families whose lives have changed keep coming in.

The reason chiropractic has the potential it has is because of the way chiropractic affects your nervous system. Regardless of the style or technique that the chiropractor uses, the bone is not of primary importance. The nervous system, by way of its association with the bones of the spine, is the key element.

Special tissues anchor the spinal cord within the bones of the spine from the base of the skull through to the base of the spine, the sacrum and coccyx or tailbone. It is through this connection to the bones that chiropractic has the ability to influence the nervous system. Since we’ve known from the work in the field of psycho-neuro-immunology since the 1970s that the nervous and immune systems are intimately related and connected, the mechanism can be appreciated.

This mechanism is the way that chiropractic affects the nervous and immune systems to have a more regulating effect on the response to stress. Specifically, Network Spinal Analysis can help to bring more ease and flexibility into the nervous system. This will yield a more dynamic ability to respond to stress and regulate the immune response.

Certainly, more research would be great to further clarify this link and path, but this doesn’t mean you should wait to find a doctor willing to help you. If you are tired of going through the cyclical ups and downs that the typical childhood asthma response yields, look more into chiropractic.

Dr. Michael J. Funicello is a chiropractor in Gilbert, AZ and has been in private practice since 1998. If you’d like more information regarding how he can help you or your family, feel free to contact him here. Childhood asthma, allergies, ear infections and other conditions typical of childhood can respond very well to gentle and effective chiropractic care.

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