Infection and children go together like peas and corn… however, in some children, for a variety of factors, symptoms persist and even worse become debilitating. In some children the infection can cause an over activation of the immune system causing the immune system to attack certain areas of the body and brain.
If your child gets a seemingly “normal” childhood infection such as ear infections, throat infections etc and you notice a change in their behaviour such as OCD tendencies, aggressiveness, defiance, regression of development, anxiety, severe loss of appetite, sensory abnormalities, behavioural tics and urination issues, your child may have had an episode of PANDAS or PANS. Usually the symptoms abate, and the child goes on with life, but for some the condition becomes chronic and debilitating.
Doctors often don’t understand the cause and diagnoses such as autism, other spectrum diagnoses, ADHD, ADD, OCD etc are given, yet these are just names for the symptoms of the actual issue. The issue and cause are much deeper. It may be PANDAS or PANS. PANDAS and PANS are two conditions that are becoming more accepted by the medical community as awareness grows and more medical doctors are getting educated on what to look out for in their practices, adding it to potential causes for their paediatric patients.
PANDAS and PANS are both autoimmune conditions, although thoughts are starting to doubt this, where the immune system fails to recognize self from non-self and attacks the body, and in PANDAS and PANS, the immune system targets the brain of the child. In both conditions, the autoimmune condition is caused by infection – they are post-infectious auto-immune conditions. The difference between PANDAS and PANS is that PANDAS is caused by the Streptococcus critter and PANS can be caused by a variety of infectious and environmental agents. Essentially, they are very similar, if not identical in presentation, yet the cause and treatment vary.
In PANDAS and PANS the immune system targets and affects an area of the brain called the basal ganglia, an area of the brain responsible for movement and behaviour, causing inflammation in the brain in general, but particularly affecting the basal ganglia causing the signs symptoms of the condition. PANDAS and PANS is treatable but comprehensive testing is required to confirm the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is confirmed and treatment provided, the child often becomes their true self, the child under the symptoms.
Although there is not test for PANDAS or PANS, there is a test to aid in the diagnosis of this condition which is called the Cunningham Panel. The unfortunate side effect of the Cunningham Panel is the price. The key phrase for PANDAS and PANS is ‘acute, sudden onset’. These autoimmune reactions follow an infection so if your child’s behaviour and symptoms began soon after an infection, it could well be PANDAS or PANS. If you would like to arrange the testing, or discuss treatment options please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Australia, Sydney to be exact, you can access free world class pans treatment via Professor Russell Dale (who co authored the international JCAP published pans treatment guidelines) at Westmead Hospital for children. For contact details CLICK HERE
HERE IS A VIDEO DESCRIBING THE TEST
I’m working on a follow up video discussing why an immune system can become over reactive and imbalanced and what you can do specifically to help your monkeez immune system to be strong against infection. This is particularly important this time of year. Stay tuned.
If you have had any experiences with PANDAS or PANS, I would love to hear your story. I would also be interested to hear if you’ve noticed your monkeez behaviour change during illness and what that looked like.