Could Ferris Bueller have his epic day off in this day in age? No; his “headache”, “sweaty palms'', and overall malaise trick would have gone viral. His face would have been Snapchatted, his parade serenades TikTok legendary, and within a few minutes, his parents’ phones would have been blowing up to his “day off”. As school begins, parents are often in the unenviable position of deciding whether it is a stomach ache or butterflies stirring up their little one’s tummy. Is that headache because of a pop quiz or a medical issue?
The answer may be less cut and dry than one would hope. It may be a little bit of both. Our vagus nerve is the main nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system. One fascinating aspect is that 80% of the time, the nerve takes messages from the organs ie: the digestive system and transports messages to the brain. Hypnotherapy, for example, has demonstrated very good results for those suffering from IBS. This technique helps to calm the enteric nervous system; thus minimizing intestinal distress signals to the brain. Nerva is an excellent app; developed by an MD that could be used to combat the added stress school may bring to an already sensitive stomach.
Another important component is that many viruses and even food can wreak havoc on what appear to be non-related symptom profiles. The sudden onset of OCD, tics, and emotional issues could be attributed to PANS - Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome. This was most often attributed to a Strep infection but may also include other infections or metabolic disorders including the flu, chickenpox, Lyme disease, and COVID-19. Post-COVID sequelae are not dependent on the severity of the initial infection or vaccine status. This is believed to be a misdirection of the body’s immune system that affects the brain.
Finally, food sensitivities are being more carefully examined with ADHD or other emotional irritations. The food irritant increases cytokines; and inflammatory markers and thus, inflammation may be the source of other cascading issues.
We often focus on the Mind-Body connection - but the road travels both ways. Parents know their children best; don’t disregard an abrupt change in behavior as them looking for a day at the ballpark. Life moves pretty fast as Ferris says; make sure you look around for a complete picture before you brush off that headache or stomach ache as a ploy to break a few rules.