PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome) and PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections) are two conditions that involve the sudden onset of certain behavioral and motor abnormalities in children, often following an infection.
Here’s how they differ:
PANDAS is a specific subset of PANS. PANDAS refers to a situation where a child’s symptoms are triggered specifically by a Group A Streptococcal (GAS) infection, like strep throat. The sudden onset or worsening of symptoms like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), tics, eating restrictions, and others are related to the immune system’s response to the strep bacteria, which somehow also affects the brain.
On the other hand, PANS is a broader term that includes all cases where these sudden-onset symptoms occur, regardless of the trigger. While PANDAS is triggered by a strep infection, PANS could be triggered by other infections, metabolic disturbances, or other inflammatory reactions.
So, all cases of PANDAS could be considered a type of PANS (because they involve pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric symptoms), but not all PANS is PANDAS (because not all of it is triggered by strep infections). In both cases, the exact mechanisms by which the triggering events lead to the neuropsychiatric symptoms are still not fully understood and continue to be the subject of research.
The main difference between the two lies in the specific cause: PANDAS is specifically linked to Group A Streptococcal infections, while PANS has a broader range of potential triggers. Both, however, involve a rapid onset or worsening of neuropsychiatric symptoms like OCD, tics, and mood changes.