There are a lot of confusing terms floating around in the world of pediatric autoimmune disorders. Some of these include PANDAS, PANS, and OCD. This blog post will focus on what symptoms to look for if you suspect your child has either PANDAS or PANS. It will also explore natural options available and how to get support should your child show signs of one or both conditions.
What is PANS?
PANS stands for Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome. This is a condition that can occur in pediatric populations; the symptoms are nearly identical to those of Lyme disease and can develop rapidly within days or weeks. The immune system goes crazy and starts attacking everything, including the brain (which can lead to tics symptoms and OCD behavior. There is now a known cause of PANS , but it's believed that it's caused by a combination of factors (like Lyme disease, food sensitivities, underlying infections, environmental toxins, and heavy metal toxicity). Researchers first noticed PANS after noticing an increase in the number of patients who presented with a sudden onset of mental health symptoms. In the past, these patients had been diagnosed with epilepsy, febrile seizure disorder, or simply were put on anti-psychotic drugs.
PANDAS, AKA: Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. PANS and PANDAS are often grouped together because they share many of the same symptoms (like tics, OCD, dyslexia, anxiety). PANDAS is actually a subset of PANS and involves pediatric-onset OCD usually brought on by strep infections.
Another set of terms you will hear floating around are Pediatric Acute Autoimmune Encephalitis (PAAE). Encephalitis is inflammation (swelling) of the brain, most often caused by a viral infection. The terms PANS/PANDAS and PAAE are again linked, but both have additional symptoms beyond those of strep infection or having OCD.
The following are all symptoms of PANS/PANDAS but will depend on how far your children have progressed in their disorder:
- Unusual movements such as tics or twitches especially around the eye or mouth. Tics may initially be diagnosed as a neurological tic
- Staring spells (can also be an oculogyric crisis)
- OCD symptoms (e.g., fear of contamination, needing things in "just so" places, etc.)
- Handwriting difficulties
- Irritability or outbursts of rage
There are different degrees of PANS/PANDAS and your doctor may not recognize all the symptoms right away. This is why it is important to be aware of them so you can help your child as soon as possible! The first step is to ask your pediatrician for a strep test.
How do you know if your child has PANS/PANDAS or PAAE? The first step in figuring this out is to talk with your doctor or call your local clinic and get a referral to a PANS/PANDAS specialist or pediatric neurologist. Once diagnosed, there are several treatment options available.
Are there natural approaches and therapeutics for PANS/PANDAS?
The conventional approach to PANS/PANDAS includes high doses of antibiotics for extended periods of time. There are many practitioners out there who are providing a natural approach to PANS/PANDAS.
Some natural approaches include:
-Nutrition/Diet (see below for more information)
-Physical therapy/Stretching exercises
Most importantly test, don't guess! It is key to take a deeper look at what might be going on with your child by using functional lab testing. This method can help you figure out if there are any underlying factors to your child's symptoms.
Here is an example of what labs/testing MIGHT be needed:
-Food sensitivity testing (blood test)
-Inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in the blood or urine
-Organic Acids (urine)
-Environmental/Myco Toxins (urine)
-Genomics (Buccal swab)
Pediatric autoimmune disorders can be tough to diagnose. But if you need help, I'm here for you! Get your hands on the functional lab testing you need right now. Grab a FREE deep dive call and I would love to guide you through the process. With just a few samples of blood, urine, stool, or saliva collected at home via kit in the mail, you get personalized feedback about what's going on inside your child's body - giving them their best chance at getting back to being themselves as quickly as possible. And don't forget that while PANDAS and PANS are both manageable conditions when handled early on you may avoid the endless doctor's visits that many parents experience.