Here is everything you need to know about PANDAS

PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus.

Friday, 16th August 2019, 11:24 am
Updated Friday, 16th August 2019, 12:24 pm
A poorly child

The syndrome involves sudden and often major changes in personality, behaviour, and movement in children following an infection involving Streptococcus pyogenes (streptococcal-Ainfection).

Strep infections can be mild, causing nothing more than a minor skin infection or sore throat. On the other hand, they can cause severe strep throat, scarlet fever, and other illnesses. Strep is found inside the throat and on the surface of the skin. You contract it when an infected person coughs or sneezes and you breathe in the droplets or touch contaminated surfaces, and then touch your face.

Most people with a strep infection make a full recovery. However, some children develop sudden physical and psychiatric symptoms a few weeks after infection. Once they start, these symptoms tend to rapidly get worse.

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What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of PANDAS start suddenly, about four to six weeks after a strep infection. They include behaviours similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette's Syndrome. These symptoms can interfere with schooling and quickly become debilitating. Symptoms worsen and reach their peak usually within two to three days, unlike other childhood psychiatric illnesses that develop more gradually.

Psychological symptoms may include:

obsessive, compulsive, and repetitive behaviors

separation anxiety, fear, and panic attacks

incessant screaming, irritability, and frequent mood changes

emotional and developmental regression

visual or auditory hallucinations

depression and suicidal thoughts

Physical symptoms may include:

tics and unusual movements

sensitivities to light, sound, and touch

deterioration of small motor skills or poor handwriting

hyperactivity or an inability to focus

memory problems

trouble sleeping

refusing to eat, which can lead to weight loss

joint pain

frequent urination and bedwetting

near catatonic state


The best treatment for acute episodes of PANDAS is to treat the strep infection causing the symptoms, if it is still present, with antibiotics.