Under the Hood

Can Strep Throat Cause Mental Illness In Kids?

Can you catch insanity? We know it sounds crazy, so we’ll ask it differently this time: Can a common condition caused by bacteria cause enough trouble to actually give you some form of mental illness?

As it turns out, it’s a huge possibility.

To understand this however, we need to take a step back and look at strep throat. A painful and common condition, strep throat affects both adults and children during the winter and spring months. It’s usually caused by bacteria and includes symptoms such as redness, irritation, and even pus build-up in the back of our throats.

Its symptoms also vary from person to person, although the most common ones include headaches, chills, a sore and red throat with white patches, a sudden fever, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes in the neck and difficulty in swallowing.

It’s usually treated with antibiotics.

Now, while that sounds normal and common, recent research is finding out that the inflammation caused by strep throat can lead to more serious conditions such as schizophrenia, depression and even Alzheimer’s disease.

PANDAS – Real or Make-Believe?

Representing an emerging branch of medical research, PANDAS stands for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococci, the same bacteria that cause strep throats. First used back in 1998, this medical condition links the sudden appearance of psychiatric symptoms on kids to strep infections.

Per the knowledge we now know about it, when our bodies start reacting to strep infections, some parts of our brain that help keep our motion and behavior get caught in the battle. These are apparently mistaken by the bacteria as cells that are attempting to destroy them, and so they get affected as well. Per doctors, eliminating the inflammation will get the immune system to stand down, therefore restoring normal brain function.

Per various genetic and epidemiological studies, people who are either suffering from depression or going through numerous pyschotic episodes have been found with a number of inflammatory markers, all present in their blood. This opened up a link, although researchers are still unsure whether the markers have been present before or after the psychotic episodes.

Because of this, there is still controversy surrounding PANDAS, and time will tell if it will ever be fully accepted and studied.

sore throat Follow these simple steps to help relieve your sore throat, without using any medication or spending much money. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock