Pandas are adorable, mysterious creatures. PANDAS although mysterious, is also a misunderstood health condition
Approximately one out of every 200 children in the United States has PANDAS/PANS. In a sense it makes children disappear, replacing them with someone almost unrecognizable. A standard child suddenly has a different personality, exhibiting symptoms of OCD and ADHD, showing extreme anxiety, sensitivity to all kinds of sensory inputs, even hallucinations. There are many possible symptoms, all equally confusing and debilitating to the child and their family.
How can this happen? Like so many syndromes we are starting to grasp, the cause is autoimmunity.
In the case of PANDAS, the onset is a strep infection that triggers a misdirected immune response that results in brain swelling. No matter what causes brain swelling the result is going to be the same, and it will never be good. (PANS is similar, but the trigger is anything but strep.)
Few doctors have encountered PANDAS/PANS. Fewer still know exactly how to treat it beyond a standard course of antibiotics and hoping for the best. There is a distinct lack of whole-body understanding in the medical industry as a whole, which leaves gaps through which many children fall.
Our naturopathic clinic has years of experience with complex conditions, and takes a whole-body, approach.
The diagnosis is mostly clinical and based on the exclusion of other similar conditions. The naturopathic doctors at the Nardella clinic go over family history, child history, symptoms, and so on to develop a whole picture. There are some tests that may help in the case of PANDAS or PANS triggered by an infection other than strep. These tests look for traces of strep in particular or neurological infection in general, the results of which can buffer the clinical diagnosis.
Treatment is broad. If there is an active infection antibiotics can be a major part of the program, as in that case the root of the autoimmune response is the infection itself. Natural antimicrobial, delivered orally or intravenously, are also an asset in the case of active infection.
Dealing with inflammation one way or another is key in any case, as the swelling is what sets off the cascade of life altering symptoms. Indeed, without inflammation PANDAS/PANS is not a valid diagnosis. Once again prescription and natural anti-inflammatories may be part of treatment. Breaking the inflammation cycle somehow is essential.
Neurological inflammation can also result in imbalanced neurotransmitters, in turn causing more symptoms. Testing for and treating these imbalances is important to allow the body the room and capacity it needs to achieve balance again.
Along with neurotransmitter imbalance, there is the possibility of other infections, such as Lyme, yeast, and viruses. Directly combatting these infections while supporting the immune system through herbs, probiotics, diet, vitamins, colostrum, and other means may be the final thread in shaking off the symptoms and letting the body re-establish control over its own systems.
PANDAS and PANS are devastating conditions with little understanding or support in the mainstream medical community.
If your child exhibits the symptoms mentioned above, let us know. We will set up a time that works for you. We know, and we will help.