What is Pandas Disease?
PANDAS Disease is a pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections. 1 in 250 children in America may suffer from PANDAS but unfortunately, the cases usually go undiagnosed.
Streptococcal infections, also referred to as Strep infections are caused by a bacteria known as Streptococcus pyogenes or group A streptococcus.
These infections are highly contagious and can be found on the surface of the skin or inside the throat. PANDAS is caused when the antibodies that were formed to fight the strep infections attack the basal ganglia in the brain. The basal ganglia is responsible for voluntary motor movements, eye movements, learning, mental and emotional functions.
Whom does it affect?
PANDAS disease is referred to as a pediatric disorder because it is most common in children. PANDAS disease appears in children between the ages of 3 and 12 years and affects more boys than girls. According to research, the disease rarely occurs in adults & adolescents.
What are typical Pandas symptoms?
PANDAS is commonly triggered by a strep infection. The initial symptoms of a child with PANDAS disease include Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and tic disorders (repetitive, involuntary sounds and movements which are usually hard to control).
Motor (Movement) or Tic symptoms may include:
- Unusual facial expressions
- Throat clear
Other typical symptoms
- Uncontrollable and unmanageable tantrums
- Moodiness and irritability
- Reduction in attention spans
- Burst into words that don’t seem to align with the conversation or what the child is talking about. These could also be random bursts into a laugh or cry at random times.
- ADHD Symptoms such as inability to focus on one task; forgetfulness
- High anxiety and depression which may lead to suicidal thoughts.
Diagnosing process or whom they should see?
PANDAS disease is a medical condition discovered in a patient by a process of elimination. Therefore, before a patient can be accurately diagnosed with PANDAS, they have to test positive for other symptoms first.
Major symptoms include; OCD, Anxiety disorder. If the treatment for OCD and anxiety doesn’t work, the doctor may test for PANDAS. Especially when the patient is between the age of 3 and puberty. Testing for PANDAS involves a throat swab and a blood test to identify the existence of streptococcus.
Other symptoms that may be helpful to come to the conclusion that the patient has PANDAS include:
- Tics (repetitive, involuntary sounds and movements which are hard to control)
- Sudden aggression and aggressive behaviors
- Developmental regression like becoming a slow learner suddenly or not being able to communicate clearly