Lyme Disease Effects On The Brain
The first section of Lyme Brain discusses the fundamentals. What actually causes this condition? Research has shown that Lyme spirochetes can invade the brain and wreak all kinds of havoc. They damage nerve cells, trigger inflammation, release neurotoxins, and disrupt the balance of brain chemicals.
Ducharme lays all this out in plain language. She also explains how co-infections contribute to Lyme disease brain:
One of the reasons I believe that the actual brain fog, memory issues and difficulty with focus and concentration is Borrelia driven is because when I treat my patients with medications that primarily impact Borrelia and cross the blood-brain barrier, I see these symptoms improve, whereas the insomnia and wacky dreams tend to respond more to Babesia treatment. Really extreme psychiatric symptoms such as rages, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, respond mostly to Bartonella treatment.
Lyme Disease And How It Can Affect The Brain And Nervous System
Patients with neurologic symptoms should discuss with their doctor about having a lumbar puncture to remove and check spinal fluid for antibodies of the Lyme disease causing bacteria. When the spinal fluid is examined, it should be sent for testing of the bacterial PCR , to look at the DNA of the bacteria, along with a blood sample to calculate a ratio index of bacteria and antibodies present within the patient. Please note, the blood should be drawn on the same day as the spinal fluid for an optimal study. The index refers to the ratio of bacterial antibodies in the SF compared to the antibodies present in the blood, to calculate the immune response levels in the whole body. When the index is positive, that indicates that there is a higher production of antibodies in the SF a finding strongly suggestive of central nervous system invasion by the agent of Lyme disease. It is believed that the index may remain positive long after the initial infection has been treated due to immunologic memory. Unfortunately, patients may have neurologic Lyme disease, but test negative on the Lyme index, providing a false negative. When positive however, the clinician can be confident that this particular individual has or has had central nervous system Lyme disease.
***Because an MRI scan uses a very powerful magnet, patients with pacemakers or other metallic implants should not get an MRI.
Why And How Lyme Disease And Tbrf Affect Mental Health
Lyme disease and TBRF can wreak havoc on a patients mental health in the following ways:
- Direct effects As with syphilis, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease and TBRF can invade the central nervous system and cause neurological and psychiatric symptoms that are organic in origin. This is what doctors call neurological Lyme disease or Lyme neuroborreliosis.
- Indirect effects The discomforts and challenges of living with and/or being treated for Lyme disease or TBRF can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions that are not necessarily caused by the bacteria, but are indirectly caused or exacerbated .
Of course, these effects are not either/or, but rather can coexist and compound one another. Learn more about each below.
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Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
If you catch the tick before it burrows into your skin, its possible to prevent Lyme disease from taking hold. If the tick has broken through your skin, a red bulls-eye pattern will form around the bite. By the time you notice this pattern, you will likely need to undergo a round of antibiotics to combat the primary infection and attempt to prevent a series of secondary infections. Early detection and intervention are critically important in preventing a series of long-term Lyme Disease symptoms. Below is a list of conditions associated with Lyme disease as well as the stages at which they occur:
Neurological Lyme Disease Diagnosis And Treatment
Lyme disease is normally diagnosed basedon a combination of factors, such as symptoms, any physical signs, history oftick bites or potential exposure to infected ticks, and laboratory tests.
Patients with chronic neurological symptoms may benefit from a brain MRI scan and late-stage Lyme disease testing, such cerebrospinal fluid testing. These can help determine the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi. Brain scans may show lesions similar to the ones seen in multiple sclerosis. Spine lesions are also sometimes observed. Other diagnostic methods include neurocognitive tests, nerve conduction studies, and neuropsychological testing.
Chronic and neurological Lyme disease is the result ofweakened immunity, decreased cellular function and environmental and lifestylefactors. Therefore, treatment requires a holistic and personalized approach,addressing each cause separately, rather than focusing on specific symptoms.
Intravenous antibiotics are the main component ofstandard treatment for neuroborreliosis. Additional options to help boost theeffectiveness of antibiotics include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication,immune modulators, antiviral drugs, hormonal therapies, and nutritionalsupplements.
Patients are also often asked to consider making some lifestyle changes. For instance, an anti-inflammatory diet rich in leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, and fruits can help reduce the autoimmune effects of the illness.
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Can You Have Lyme For Years And Not Know It
But I don’t want people to think that this is common. It’s quite unusual,” said Farber, the infectious disease specialist. “For the overwhelming majority of people who have Lyme disease, it’s been diagnosed and treated, and even when it’s not diagnosed, they don’t go on to develop those symptoms,” he stressed.
Demographics And Clinical Data
Patient characteristics are shown in Table 1. Cranial nerve palsy and meningitis were the dominant clinical symptoms of LNB. Three patients demonstrated contrast enhancement of cranial nerves, which corresponded to clinical findings. The remaining patients had normal structural MRI.
Table 1 Epidemiological and clinical characteristics among 26 patients with Lyme neuroborreliosis
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Infectious Diseases And Mental Health
Lyme disease and TBRF are not the only infectious disease to have ties to mental illness. One of the earliest and most well-known examples of an infectious disease that causes neurological and psychiatric symptoms is syphilis.
This sexually transmitted disease, which like Lyme is caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria and treated at early stages with antibiotics, has been called the great imitator also like Lyme because its symptoms can be wide-ranging and non-specific, especially at late stages. That includes neurological and psychiatric symptoms that become much more likely the longer the disease goes untreated.
Given that ties between late-stage syphilis and mental illness have long been recognized by the medical community, it shouldnt be surprising that untreated Lyme disease poses similar risks to patients psychological wellbeing. Recent studies have investigated possible connections between Lyme disease and a host of mental health issues, including:
- Developmental disorders
Yet there are still many doctors and scientists who doubt the existence of chronic Lyme disease, and/or do not realize how many different borrelia cause TBRF, hurting patients chances of fighting both the diseases themselves and their mental health consequences.
How Do You Test For Late Stage Lyme Disease
Diagnosis. The diagnosis of late-stage Lyme disease can be very difficult, and is usually made by a specialist in infectious diseases. The diagnosis can be confirmed if the affected person has had the characteristic ‘bull’s eye’ rash and has lived or worked in areas where ticks are present, or with a blood test.
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Acute Vs Chronic Lymedisease
There are some importantdifferences between acute and chronic Lyme disease. When infection occurs andthe bacteria enter the body, the immune system recognizes the microbes asharmful and begins fighting them. If the immune system is strong and robust,the initial symptoms may be very mild, and sometimes there wont be anysymptoms at all. This is why people often dont even realize theyve beeninfected.
In its early stages, Lymedisease is usually treated successfully with antibiotics. But if the infectionremains undiagnosed, the bacteria can go on living inside the cells withoutcausing any trouble for a long time. As they travel to other tissues andorgans, including the brain, they eventually disperse throughout the body. Theonly time symptoms might present is when the immune system weakens due toillness, extreme stress, or some other reason. This is when the bacteria startto flourish, causing a chronic infection.
Chronic Lyme disease occurswhen the entire microbiome is disrupted. After this has happened, the immune system continues todysfunction, which can lead to many different types of symptoms. This chronicphase can even last a lifetime.
How Lyme Gets Into Your Brain
To understand how Lyme disease affects, the brain, its important to understand the different phases of the infection. Ticks, specifically deer ticks in the northeastern U.S., are the carriers of the bacteria spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi that causes Lyme disease. In particular, its the small, immature tick nymphs that feed on animals like the white-footed mouse, squirrels and other small mammals that serve as reservoirs for Borrelia burgdorferi. Later, an infected tick will attach themselves to a person or other mammal. Once attached, the tick will gorge on the blood of its host for several days. Many
Even prior to entering the host, S. Borrelia Burgdorferi has its work to do. Host blood enters the tick gut during feeding, as S. Borrelia Burgdorferi simultaneously begins to multiply in preparation to travel to the ticks salivary glands. As the bacteria enter the host, there are several mechanisms that make it difficult for the immune system to attack and eradicate S. Borrelia Burgdorferi.
First, to avoid an immune response from the host, the bacteria decrease the number of surface proteins that signal a pro-inflammatory response. These proteins are normally found at high levels within the tick gut, but are significantly decreased during feeding periods.
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Stage 3 Lyme Disease Signs:
Within a few weeks after the start of the infection, about 60% of people develop arthritis characterized by joint pain and swelling. In stage 3, you may have temporary periods of arthritis or you may feel the arthritis symptoms all the time. You may also have ongoing nervous system problems, but this is less likely.
Symptoms of nervous system problems during stage 3 may include:
- Numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
- Trouble concentrating
- Slowed speech or language deficits
- Muscle weakness in your arms or legs
- Depression/anxiety/personality changes
Understanding Neurologic Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a condition that is carried by infected black-legged deer ticks. These ticks are usually found in wooded areas with tall grass. Ticks intended targets are deer and other woodland animals, but will just as easily attach themselves to hikers, hunters, and unsuspecting adventurers. Lyme disease cases are consistently on the rise and the CDC estimates that the current numbers, around 300,000 cases every year, are dramatically underreported.
Dr. Joseph Schneider, DC, DACNB head neurologist at the Hope Brain and Body Recovery Center utilizes state-of-the-art treatment methods and expertise to help patients suffering from Neurologic Lyme Disease. Our team understands how much of a burden Lyme Disease can be and want to help you manage your symptoms and restore your quality of life.
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Whats The Difference Between Neurologic Lyme Disease And Ms
Olga Syritsyna, MD
Hearing the words you have Lyme disease or you have MS can be quite unsettling. And to complicate matters, when Lyme disease affects the central nervous system, the symptoms can be very similar to MS. So it can be hard to tell the difference to the untrained eye. Many doctors are generalists and not specially trained to diagnose either disease. Dr. Olga Syritsyna is a neurologist with subspecialty training in neurologic Lyme disease and MS.
What is neurologic Lyme disease?First, lets start with defining Lyme disease. Its a seasonal tick-borne infection caused by the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that can affect multiple organs and systems in the body. Its named after Lyme, CT, where it was first identified in 1975. In about 15 percent of cases, Lyme disease affects the central nervous system. When it does, it is known as neurologic Lyme disease. Sometimes, people who think they may have Lyme disease find out they have MS . Lyme disease as an infection can act to trigger MS attacks. This is why being seen by a neurologist specially trained to know the differences is key.
Why choose Stony Brook for diagnosis and treatment of neurologic Lyme disease?For neurologic Lyme disease, Stony Brook has extensive experience in detecting antibodies to the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that is carried by ticks and can affect the central nervous system. We do frequent lumbar punctures and perform a variety of tests on cerebrospinal fluid.
Get Tested And Treated Early
Studies acknowledge that up to 30% of patients go on to suffer further Lyme symptoms even after treatment, sometimes called Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome . One of the biggest risk factors for this condition is delayed treatment.
Research is finally, if slowly, catching up to the reality that letting Lyme disease slip through the cracks of insufficient diagnostic testing causes real suffering for patients. IGeneX is at the forefront of solving this problem, offering more sensitive and accurate testing for Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases that can cause mental health problems when left untreated. Learn more today.
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Treating Neurological Lyme Disease
Though neurological and psychiatric symptoms can be reduced with antibiotic treatment, emotional and cognitive problems arising from late-stage or chronic Lyme often call for a broader range of interventions. This includes lifestyle changes in such areas as diet, exercise, and environment.
Again, its worth reiterating that the longer an infection goes undetected, the harder it is to treat, and the more likely it is that symptoms will require multi-pronged, multi-system interventions besides antibiotics alone.
Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
Single voxel 1H-MRS spectrum of the normal-appearing medulla oblongata of the 2 persons . A 22-year-old woman with left facial nerve palsy and meningitis in the course of Lyme neuroborreliosis. The cerebrospinal fluid analysis revealed lymphocytic pleocytosis, and intrathecal Borrelia burgdorferi antibody production was confirmed 1H-MRS spectrum shows marked elevation of choline and relative decrease of N-acetylaspartate indicating inflammation. Normal 1H-MRS spectrum obtained from a healthy woman of similar age in the same region.
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Why Choose Hope Brain & Body Recovery Center For Treatment
When seeking treatment for neurological conditions, you shouldnt settle for anything but the most premium treatment. Dr. Joseph Schneider has over 30 years of clinical experience and has attended to over 11,000 patients with a wide array of neurological conditions.
Dr. Schneider has firsthand experience with neurological treatment, having suffered a stroke in 2017. Thanks to his incredibly talented associates and personal knowledge of treatment methods, has made a miraculous recovery. He has devoted his life to the neurological health of his patients and uses his firsthand experience of the recovery process to improve the treatment methods used at Hope Brain & Body Recovery Center.
Choosing Hope Brain & Body Recovery Center gives you access to some of the most modern technical treatment equipment available. We utilize a wide range of modern diagnostic equipment that helps our specialists build some of the most comprehensive neurological profiles for our patients. This means we are able to offer more accurate diagnoses, discover underlying conditions, as well as use the information to create therapy plans that are uniquely designed for each patient.
Patients And Control Group
The study consisted of twenty-six patients with “definite” LNB according to the EFNS guidelines, hospitalized in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Neuroinfection of the Medical University of Biaystok between July 2015 and December 2017. We did not include patients with “possible” LNB, because the diagnosis of LNB is speculative in this group. We also excluded patients suffering from LNB with any focal lesions in the brain on structural MRI . All our patients had early LNB . The patients age ranged from 19 to 65 years , with a mean age of 43±14.3 years. The control group consisted of twenty-six healthy subjects with no previous history of neurological dysfunction, and medical conditions affecting the brain, and with normal findings on MRI. Healthy volunteers were not taking any medication at the time of testing.
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Stage 3 Lyme Disease Signs
Stage 3 Lyme Disease is called late disseminated Lyme disease and the bacteria has spread throughout the body.
Stage 3 Lyme Disease Signs involves symptoms in various organs. Symptoms may include arthritis of one or multiple large joints , confusion, short-term memory loss, inflammation of the heart, inflammation of tissue surrounding the brain, and numbness in the hands, legs and feet. For some patients, symptoms persist for months or years.
How Lyme Disease Affects The Brain
Lyme disease has profoundeffects on the brain in about 15% of patients. According to some sources, thispercentage may even be higher, since thousands of cases are likely to remainundiagnosed every year.
Neuroborreliosis is the name for the neurological disorder caused by Lyme disease. The symptoms of neuroborreliosis include memory impairment, attention deficit, sleep disturbances, cranial nerve abnormalities, dyslexia, decreased verbal fluency, and sensitivity to light. In some cases, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, hallucinations, and progressive dementia may also occur. In children, the most common symptoms of neuroborreliosis are headaches, behavioral changes, learning difficulties, and sleep disorders.
A small number of patientsexperience neurological symptoms after early antibiotic treatment for Lymedisease. This phenomenon is referred to as post-treatment Lyme diseasesyndrome and is probably caused by a widespread inflammation of the brain.
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What Is Neurologic Lyme Disease
When a tick successfully burrows into the skin, it introduces a bacteria called borrelia burgdorferi that is responsible for the onset of Lyme Disease. The primary condition isnt considered neurological until it permeates the blood barrier and accesses the brain and central nervous system. At this point, oral anti-biotics become significantly less effective, and more specialized intravenous antibiotic treatment is required.
Neurological symptoms can develop days, weeks, or months after the initial tick bite. Symptoms that may indicate that the disease has progressed to a neurologic condition are headaches and a stiff neck. Other symptoms may include facial nerve palsy , blurred or double vision, spine pain, confusion, and chronic fatigue. Neurologic Lyme disease may also cause brain fog, impairing your ability to think, memory recollection, and ability to process information.
- Cranial nerve: When the cranial nerves are affected by Lyme, facial palsy can occur on one or both sides of the face.
- Peripheral nerve: patients can develop radiculoneuropathy, causing numbness, tingling, shooting pain, or weakness in the arms or legs.
- Central nerve: can cause fever, severe headaches, abnormal sensitivity to light, and stiff neck.