Rebekah was out in the heat all day yesterday. She has issues controlling her body temperature, so we did our best to keep her shaded and cool. She never got sweaty, but by the end of the day, I could tell she wasn't feeling her best and her digestion slowed down greatly. She was getting a very bloated and hard stomach and it was taking a long time for her stomach to empty. We also had to treat her for constipation because she hadn't pooped in several days and this should not be an issue with a very short large intestine. All of this made me reflect back on her major bowel obstructions which almost all have taken place after prolonged heat exposure. In fact, I think all GI hospitalizations have been during the summer!
I started to research how temperature/climate can affect digestion and I found several Chinese medicine sites that state that stress is the number one issue contributing to GI issues which, in turn, dictates your overall health. Stress can be mental, which is what most of us think about. But it is also physiological. And my thoughts are that the physiological stress of managing body temperature greatly affects Rebekah's GI health.
From one of the pages, I read the following:
"Most people do not realise the effect of weather, humidity and temperature on their digestive system. Sudden changes to external temperature affects your circulation, nervous system and also your digestion. Living or working in cold, draughty conditions can weaken digestion, hot weather can cause bloating and water retention. It is important that anyone sufferring from digestive health problems should try to stay warm and dress appropriately for the weather."
I also found this Huffington Post article about a medical study on the relationship between climate GI health. It states that prolonged heat exposure over days definitely affects GI problems and sends more people to the hospital with IBD flareups and infectious gastroenteritis. (IBD includes Crohn's Disease, Ulceratice Colotis, and other related autoimmune disorders.)
I think with so many trisomy 18 kids having some sort of ongoing GI issues, and many having temperature regulation issues and/or being negatively affected by heat exposure, we ought to be able to come up with a protocol for managing our kids when exposure to heat is necessary. I wonder what things we can do to better prepare our kids before going in the heat, to help decrease the stress of being in the heat, and how to adjust feeds and fluid intake to improve motility issues arising from heat exposure.
If your child has these issues too, or you have any thoughts on the subject, please let me know.