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What is PANS? 3 Things You Should Know

what is pans? 3 things you should know Jul 27, 2023
What is PANS? 3 Things You Should Know

Did you know that post-infectious neuroinflammation is found in more than 80% of patients with PANS? PANS stands for "Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome." It is a serious condition that can develop very abruptly, sometimes overnight.

But what is PANS exactly? What are the symptoms and what can you do to treat it? Keep reading and learn more about this clinical disorder below.

1. PANS Has Many Symptoms

PANS is often hard to diagnose because it has so many symptoms. Some of the most prominent include OCD symptoms. A child with this condition may suddenly start exhibiting severe obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

These behaviors may begin overnight or over a few days. The child may start repeating certain actions or exhibiting new obsessions. These obsessions may interfere with the child's school performance.

The child may also show changes in their mood. They may experience mood swings and be more agitated. This may make it more difficult for the child to concentrate on schoolwork and other important topics.

Some children may develop tics as well. These include clicking the tongue, cracking the knuckles, and so on. PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus) is caused by a streptococcal infection. With PANS, other infections such as mycoplasma, viruses including COVID and Lyme disease, and co-infections such as Bartonella and Babesia may be implicated.

2. PANS Can Relapse

It is possible to treat this condition. Treating it is a three-pronged approach:

• Treating the underlying triggers such as with antimicrobials (Cooperstock et al, J Child Adol Psychopharm, 2017)

Treating neuroinflammation and post-infectious autoimmunity with anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory interventions Frankovich, J Child Adol Psychopharm, 2017

Providing symptomatic relief and comprehensively treating symptoms causing the most distress (Thienemann et al, J Child Adol Psychopharm, 2017). Therapy, especially CBT and DBT, can be a big part of this treatment

A child may not exhibit any signs of this condition for a long period, or their symptoms may be minimized. But the symptoms may come back at an unexpected time. This is known as a relapse. It can be upsetting to see these symptoms come back. But continuous treatment can keep this condition under control. Leaving the condition untreated will make it worse (Swedo et al, J Child Adol Psyhopharm, 2017).

While treating it is difficult, and requires ongoing oversight, it can be very rewarding and greatly improve a child's and family’s quality of life.

3. There Are Various Severities of PANS

Some children have very mild forms of PANS. Other children have very severe forms of PANS. They may have a hard time concentrating on anything other than their obsessions and compulsions. They may have severe tics throughout the day. They may also have violent mood swings and other issues.

There are many wonderful resources for these children and families including a children’s book, Super Sam! And the battle against PANS/PANDAS by Lindsey Wells, ND, and my comprehensive guide with almost 500 references, “Demystifying PANS / PANDAS: A Functional Medicine Desktop Reference on Basal Ganglia Encephalitis”, which is available on Amazon.

What Is PANS?

PANS is a treatable but serious condition that affects the brain. Early diagnosis and appropriate management are key.

To learn more about it, check out our mentoring and membership programs.

Nancy O'Hara


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