Strep And The Brain – A Potentially Overlooked Connection
It might be surprising to find out that there is a connection between strep and the brain. There are often disorders of the brain that follow cases of streptococcal infections. These can be either short-lived or long-lasting. In any case, they give great motivation to try to prevent strep infections from taking hold in your child. If you recognize strep throat in him or her, get your kid checked out immediately by a doctor.
Strep and OCD
One such brain disorder that can follow a strep infection is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This is a malady in which patients worry constantly about small things they do. They may worry that they have not gotten their hands clean enough and continually wash them or have other routines. Only certain sufferers of OCD have a connection between strep and the brain.
This form of the disorder is called PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections). This refers to the fact that these people, children, get strep throat and their brain responds with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
PANDAS is a children’s disease. That may be because children are the ones who usually get strep throat and the brain is affected. PANDAS shows up in children before puberty. Others with OCD usually do not exhibit symptoms until after puberty.
PANDAS comes on suddenly. Children get strep and the brain is assaulted by its own defenses in an autoimmune response. A certain part of the brain is affected which causes the OCD symptoms to begin rather rapidly. Other OCD patients’ illnesses come on gradually over time.
The autoimmune response happens between strep throat and the brain when antibodies are formed. These are proteins that are designed to fight the infection. In the autoimmune response, for some reason, these proteins attack the brain instead.
In PANDAS patients, the strep antibodies inflame the basal ganglia specifically. This is a special part of the brain that helps to control movement and behavior. It is no wonder, then that these children have problems with strep and then the brain develops problems.
Interestingly enough, PANDAS patients’ OCD often subsides for periods of time only to reappear later. This is especially true when the child is being treated with antibiotics. This seems to lessen the affects on the brain from step throat.
Strep and Anorexia
It is believed by some doctors that strep can bring on a form of anorexia nervosa. In these cases, the child has strep throat and then the brain is assaulted with its own antibodies. It is not surprising, since anorexia is like OCD in that it is obsessive worrying about being overweight.
Strep and Tourette’s
Tourette’s Syndrome is another problem that shows up after strep and the brain response. This is an ailment in which the child grunts, has tics, or repeated movements, or the limbs simply flail about almost uncontrollably. The child is still able to walk, for example, but will walk in a stumbling, twitching manner.