Did you know strep throat could cause this?
In the throes of winter, we have to face the inevitable: It’s strep throat season. By now, you know the rules – wash your hands, cover your cough or sneeze, and so on. But sometimes sickness happens, and if all else fails, stay home from work or school if you are feeling ill.
“Symptoms of strep throat include: sore throat, swollen and tender glands, headache, bad breath, and sometimes a sore neck,” explains Jeffry Young, DO, FAAP, at Aurora Children’s Health + UW Health in Green Bay, Wis. “If you have a runny, congested nose and a cough, you most likely do not have strep throat.”
In addition to problematic symptoms, strep can also sometimes cause lasting behavioral issues in children.
“PANDAS, or Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infection, is a disorder triggered by strep throat that causes symptoms similar to that of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Tourette’s, usually in children ages 3 through 10,” explains Dr. Young. “These symptoms include hyperactivity, mood swings, impulsivity, separation anxiety and motor or verbal tics.”
Affecting approximately one in 200 children with acute strep infection, PANDAS is relatively rare. PANDAS is caused by an autoimmune response to strep throat that attacks brain cells, causing these types of symptoms, which usually appear suddenly following strep infection symptoms.
For children affected by PANDAS, the symptoms may never go away. But for some, there is hope. Dr. Young gives a list of treatment options to try:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
- Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT)
- Psychiatric medication
- Antibiotics to treat the strep infection
“Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to prevent PANDAS,” says Dr. Young. “All we can do is treat children with a positive rapid strep test or culture proven strep infection as soon as they are diagnosed, educate parents on what to look for and offer treatment for PANDAS as soon as possible.”
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About the Author
Brianna Wunsch, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator for Advocate Aurora Health with a BA in public affairs from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. In her free time, Brianna enjoys living an active lifestyle through biking, hiking and working out at the gym, but even more than that, she especially loves spending quality time with her two cats (Arthur and Loki), son and husband.