Chronic Disease Support/Management/10 yr lil bro - pain, infection
Hello Isabel, and thanks in advance for your time. I don't know if this is the right place to ask, but I don't know where else to turn. My 10 year old little brother, Ryan, unexpectedly started experiencing frequent headaches, stomachaches, backaches, and general pain around the beginning of this year. Before that he was completely fine. At first he only got head and stomachaches during car rides, which we didn't think much of because all of us experienced car sickness as kids. However they started to get more severe, and giving him medicine (tylenol, ibuprofen)as no effect. After that however, he started getting sick after eating. At first not very sick, then quite sick indeed, after eating literally anything. There is nothing he could eat without getting at least a little stomach pain. Then there were the body aches. They were mainly, but not completely restricted to, his back, shoulders and neck. My mother finally took him to the doctor, who told her that his stomach doesn't tolerate food additives and it had gotten to the point where it was giving him ulcers, and gave him medicine to take every day. While since then his condition has improved, it's not completely gone and it was over a month before the medicine started to have any noticeable effect. Even with the improvements we've seen I do not think this is normal by any means. I know you're not a doctor, but I'm a minor, and I can't take him to see one, and as of yet my mother has made no plans to take him again, so any comments you may have on this are greatly, GREATLY appreciated. I think there has to be more to it than an intolerance to food additives to cause all these aches and pains. Is there any possibility it could be fibromyalgia? Could it possibly be anything you've ever heard of?
There IS one more thing, although I'm not sure whether it's relevant. Last year, in November, a little before he started having symptoms, we all came down with a very severe illness. We initially thought it was just a cold, but it was definitely something else- to be blunt, it just about took us out. It lasted for about two weeks and nearly got my older brother, 25 at the time, and I was bedridden and miserable for far longer than I care to remember - I was 15 at the time. Ryan, 9 at the time, got it as well- it was brought to my attention by friends that if whatever this was brought a grown man and a teenager to their knees, little Ryan might have been effected long term- they think he could possibly have some kind of organ damage. The theory is that my step-father brought back some kind of heinous illness back with him from his trip to Belgium, around the time we all got sick. They also think TB is a possibility- my mother thinks vaccinations and shots are dangerous and I'm not sure if he's had the shot for it.
So, to recap:
Head and stomachaches- normal children's medicine doesn't help
Back, neck, shoulder, and general body aches
Began about a year ago
He's only 10
Please, any input you may have would be extremely helpful.
Thank you very much, God bless,
As you know I am not a doctor or health care professional. I can only speak from my experiences and share information I have been told.
With many symptoms including those you describe they can have a variety of causes.
I had problems with pain myself stomaches and headaches. I also had neck, back, and shoulder pain, but that could have been tied to having been in a car accident when I was in elementary school and another one a few years ago. However, I was shocked to learn problems with food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances can also cause pain.
Gluten (found in wheat, barley and rye, but it is also added to a variety of products) is supposed to be notorious for pain and headaches in particular. I never noticed a connection with stomach pains but some people with gluten problems do notice the pattern. Since he is a minor I would imagine he would be limited in what kind of medical tests he could get unless your parents take him. Some tests require one to still be eating gluten to be accurate. I prefer the stool test because one can be gluten free and still get accurate results - it looks at the genes for gluten problems and if they have been activated. I also usually encourage people to give gluten free a try, but your brother is a minor and a growing child and it does eliminate foods that are often recommended as part of a daily diet. However, if he has a problem with gluten he cannot get truly better until he stops eating it. Gluten free products can be expensive so naturally gluten free is quite useful and just have the packaged gluten free products as occasional treats. There is a lot of information online about gluten. You might be interested in reading some information on celiac.com which is one of several reasons I would not underestimate the power of food allergies. Another reason is the cases in Dr. Bateson-Koch's book Allergies Disease in Disguise. Going gluten free helped me immensely my headaches lessened. I still had some stomach problems but it could have been tied to trying to heal but still needing to eat too.
Milk can also be problematic. Lactose intolerance an ability to breakdown the sugar in milk. An allergy to milk. Casein intolerance a problem with one of the many proteins in milk. I have casein intolerance. I have not noticed a big difference avoiding dairy but I was so sick before and the doctor seemed certain it was a problem so I do not take the chance.
I have read of people having problems with processed sugars, nightshades (tomato, potato, eggplant), salicylates (chemical in plants, fruits, and vegetables - super common so I do not understand how people could avoid it), yeast, MSG (food additive), etc.
Allergies in the strict definition of the word are often to proteins because the body mistakes the protein in the food for a germ and has a specific immune response to it. I developed a lot of allergies because the gluten allowed other foods out of my digestive tract, so then it got into the body where it should not have been and my body thought it was a threat. When food is properly digested one should not have allergies. For reasons I do not understand it can take a long time to heal the digestive tract but once it is healed allergies should not be an issue. However, food intolerances will generally need to be avoided for life. Sensitivities mean on has a problem with a food or chemical but it does not fit the official definition and response to qualify as an allergy.
In regards to your family all getting really sick. My family thinks that some infection/ disease I had contributed to a sharp decline in my health and seemed to activate or worsen my gluten intolerance. It sounds like your brother might have had an underlying risk or problem and then when you all got sick it allowed the underlying issue to worsen.
It seemed odd to me that your brother would have ulcers at age 10. So I did some reading. According to WebMD, the pain medication could be problematic or it could be an infection Hpylori. I was tested for that. I think I did the breath test. If I am thinking of the right thing some tests are more accurate than others for it.
Something seems to have messed up his digestion. He seems to need to fix that. Poor digestion is problematic because without good digestion one is at risk for malnutrition. I hope your parents try to get him some help because he is still young and growing. I live in the US and had money for food yet had malnutrition because my body could not digest and utilize the food I ate.
I wonder what medication he was given and is he still on it? I admit I am kind of biased against medication. I cannot deny some people need it and that it helps some. But other people are done a disservice being put on medication that masks symptoms which are the body's way of showing something is wrong. Plus they do not necessarily treat the root problem. And they can lead to side effects and additional problems. I am also concerned because some medicines are newer and others have not been studied well for their effects on children.
In regards to fibromyalgia. I am glad people's pain is being acknowledged. However, it seems to me that it is just a fancy name for pain that the doctor's do not know why people have. Treatment . If I remember correctly I think WebMD has a good section on it and they discuss lifestyle and diet techniques for dealing with it. I found the section and put the link below. The medical treatment for it seems to be medication that I do not think can be used for a 10 year old plus if it was my kid I would be scared. Personally I am more interested in the root issue and treating that. Plus like I said before pain and food allergies and problems have a strong connection.
Belgium is in Europe and seems to be considered Western Europe. It is not a 3rd world country, so while there could have been some infection brought back home that would not be my biggest concern though I am not a disease expert. I looked on the World Health Organization Website and I do not see anything for Belgium recently and the old stuff was often imported or a multi country problem (link is below). Many of the 2012 disease alerts were in 3rd world countries. I think the infection might have triggered or worsened an underlying issue because based on what you described it took a lot of energy and immune activity for your family to fight off the infection.
I think vaccines can be problematic when given to children especially so many at once so I cannot entirely disagree with your mom on that. I do not think there is a vaccine for TB I think there is just a test for it. The key symptom that tends to make it stand out is coughing up blood. WebMD has information on TB. It is usually my go to health information site but MayoClinic is another good one. Wikipedia is not necessarily written by doctors or reviewed by doctors for accuracy so I would use caution on some websites.
I hope this helps some. I tried to provide websites for more information. You could also try to get the book from a library - there a few health books I love and think they were well worth buying and this is one of them. Maybe there are some things you can talk to your mom about. If she is into more natural stuff. There are dietary and supplement/ vitamins she might want to look into. If you have any questions please let me know.
Dr. Bateson-Koch's book - Allergies Disease in Disguise
Fibromyalgia - http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/default.htm
Mayo clinic - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health-information/
Salicylate allergy. http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/salicylate-allergy
Salicylate sensitivity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salicylate_sensitivity
Tuberculosis - http://www.webmd.com/lung/understanding-tuberculosis-basics
Ulcers - http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/understanding-ulcers-basic-information
World Health Organization - Belgium - http://www.who.int/csr/don/archive/country/bel/en/
World Health Organization - Disease Alerts 2012 - http://www.who.int/csr/don/archive/year/2012/en/index.html