What is PANDAS?

As a mom with a PANS child, my goal is to explain PANDAS and PANS in the most simple way possible.

PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal infection.

PANS stands for Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome.

Slightly different acronym meanings, but the same range of symptoms and often a sudden onset. The differentiating factor is the trigger of the onset of symptoms.

In short, PANDAS and PANS are childhood disorders that are triggered when a child’s immune system kicks into overdrive and not only attacks the virus or bacteria that is making your child sick, but attacks your child’s brain. Specifically, the immune system is triggered to attack the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that controls movement and emotion.

PANDAS has one trigger–strep A, which can fester in the throat, eyes, skin and anus, among other parts of the body. PANS can be triggered by numerous factors, including a full spectrum of viruses and antibodies, stress, chemicals and other environmental factors. Common virus triggers include mycoplasma pneumonia, herpes simplex, the common cold and influenza.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

Regardless of the trigger, the onset of neurological and psychiatric symptoms is abrupt, often overnight for both PANS and PANDAS. Although PANS and PANDAS require clinical diagnoses, meaning there is not a medical test that precedes a diagnosis, the neuropsychiatric symptoms such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, tics, severe eating restrictions, anxiety, ADHD-type behaviors, personality changes, emotional liability, and sleep disturbances, are common in both disorders.

Medical treatments run the gamut, including long-term antibiotics, steroids, IVIG (a blood product) and plasmapheresis — a more invasive treatment in which the child’s blood is “cleaned” and the bad antibodies are removed from the bloodstream.

Parents have also had success in treating PANS and PANDAS through high-grade therapeutic oils, chiropractic care, naturopathic medicine, and diet amendments, among other healing modalities.

Although the diagnosis for PANS and PANDAS is often slow to come and the treatments among affected children vary greatly, one thing is true–these childhood disorders turn lives upside down and put families to the test.

I speak from experience, and I hope my posts show that you are not alone and in some way help you find healing for your child.

MJ Keatts is a mom of three – one of whom inspired her to start this blog. A journalist by trade, minimalist at heart, and a stunt girl in her dreams, MJ proudly admits that she’s learned more from her kids and husband than she could ever teach them herself. She loves to laugh – especially at herself – and one day hopes to amaze her husband and be ready on time.

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