A mother's hand touching a forehead of a sleeping child with a Streptococcal infection
14 Signs Your Child's Strep Is Turning Into PANDAS
by Lindsay E. Mack

Sometimes, the human body can be downright weird. For instance, did you know that getting a sore throat could cause your child to develop symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder? Basically, the growing immune system can misfire in strange ways. With this in mind, if your child has recently dealt with a strep throat infection, it's smart to be on the lookout for signs your child has PANDAS.

Before diving in, it's crucial to understand PANDAS in a bit more depth. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infection, more commonly known as PANDAS, is a condition that may affect children who have had a strep infection. . As further explained by NIMH, when the child's immune system goes to attack the strep bacteria, it may accidentally harm some of the child's own normal molecules. In these instances, a sudden appearance or worsening of obsessive compulsive behavior may occur, seemingly out of nowhere.

Although the ins and outs of PANDAS are still being researched, it does appear that the condition is treatable. With that in mind, if your child suddenly starts displaying symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder, then a trip to the pediatrician may indicate PANDAS. In general, treatment for PANDAS may include antibiotics to treat the strep infection, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy, according to the International OCD Foundation. As always, if you're concerned about some aspect of your child's health, a trip to the pediatrician for a full check-up is wise. Until then, here are some signs of PANDAS to keep an eye out for.


Streptococcal Infection

Has your child had a bout of strep throat recently? It's extremely common, and children in the U.S. are estimated to contract a Streptococcus infection about once every 4 years, according to Health Communities. If your child gets a sore throat, particularly if it makes swallowing painful, then you may want to get it checked out. Of course, not every case of strep throat turns into PANDAS, but it's good to be informed.



Sudden, uncontrollable movements or sounds should not be dismissed. According to the International OCD Foundation, tic symptoms are another potential sign of PANDAS. Tics can even occur any place on the body, so it isn't limited to eye twitching.


Mood Changes

Has your normally mild child gone aggro? Although there are many potential causes for this occurrence, sudden mood changes are another symptom of the disorder, according to NIMH.


Anxiety Symptoms

It's always tough to watch your child struggle with fears. As noted by Stanford Medicine, children affected by PANDAS may have pronounced symptoms of anxiety. Excessive worry about schoolwork or family members may occur.


Decline In Schoolwork

Unfortunately, academic performance may even take a hit. As noted by the International OCD Foundation, a decline in math skills or even handwriting ability may point to PANDAS. This may be an especially distressing symptom.


Obsessive Behavior

This may be one of the more difficult symptoms to notice. As explained by the NIH, symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are very common in children diagnosed with PANDAS. And as further noted by the Child Mind Institute, OCD obsessions in children may include a fixation with cleanliness, a fear of harm, and a worry about symmetry. But because these obsessions may take place within the child's mind, you may not know what's going on when your kid flips out after accidentally touching some mud.


Compulsive Behavior

Ritualistic behavior is common with compulsions. As noted by Kids Health, children who deal with compulsions may have to repeat certain behaviors, count to a specific number, or fixate on hand washing and cleanliness. The ritual may provide the child with a temporary sense of control over fear.


Sleep Troubles

According to the NIMH, sleep disturbances are another symptom associated with PANDAS. In fact, children suffering form PANDAS may even revert to bed-wetting.


Developmental Regression

Sometimes, children with this condition appear to regress to an earlier stage. According to the NIMH, a child with PANDAS may revert to baby talk or temper tantrums. This is likely a baffling and concerning situation for parents.


Joint Pain

According to the NIMH, joint pain is another sign of PANDAS. Keep an eye out if your kid's mobility appears to be hampered by pain.


Depression Symptoms

Along with all of these other changes, your child may suddenly display symptoms of depression, including, mood swings, listlessness, and crying bouts, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. If these traits persist for more than a few days, then you may want to get it checked out.


Separation Anxiety

Does you kid suddenly have a hard time letting you go on even a quick errand? According to the NIMH, children with PANDAS may exhibit separation anxiety.


Hypersensitivity To Stimuli

Is your kid suddenly bothered by sunlight or thunder? According to the International OCD Foundation, hypersensitivity to certain stimuli is another potential signs of PANDAS. In some cases, a child may be suddenly bothered by bright lights or loud noises.



PANDAS may also affect your kid's eating habits. As noted by the International OCD Foundation, children with PANDAS may show signs of anorexia, perhaps due to a fear of choking or vomiting. Whatever the case, a refusal to eat is definitely cause for concern.