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Can Lyme Disease Cause Memory Loss

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Getting A Correct Diagnosis

Kris Kristofferson’s memory loss caused by Lyme disease

Diagnosing Lyme is often a complicated process, most physicians are not adequately qualified to identify Lyme disease and the common tests used to confirm a Lyme diagnosis can report incorrect results 50% of the time . To make matters more complex, Lyme patients with neurological symptoms are often misdiagnosed with neurological diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Parkinson’s disease, or even worse, their symptoms are dismissed altogether. The symptoms that they are experiencing are frustrating and maddening, especially when they are being told it’s all in your head. The struggle to find the right diagnosis is extremely draining for patients who are already facing depression, brain fog, memory loss, tremors, and other crippling symptoms.

At Envita our doctors and staff are highly trained in identifying Lyme disease our physicians utilize a proprietary PCR diagnosis protocol which allows them to not only accurately diagnose Lyme disease, but be able to monitor the Lyme infection and co-infection levels in the body throughout treatment. While this technology is still in research-and-development and is currently only available at Envita, it is proving to be a vitally important diagnostic tool for our Lyme patients. Correctly diagnosing the disease is always the first step in reaching a solution and at Envita we understand the importance of quickly and accurately diagnosing our patients.

Borrelia Releasing Neurotoxins in the Brain

Lyme Disease Memory Loss Treatment

by lyme2440 | Sep 10, 2018 | Articles

Lyme Disease, caused by the bite of a bacteria-infected tick with Borrelia burgdorferi, mayonii, afzelii or garinii , not only attacks the patients organs and joints, but causes significant changes in their neurological state, sometimes called Lyme brain.

This serious and debilitating illness affects an estimated 365,000 individuals each year and numbers are rising.

For those who suffer from the cognitive impairments of Lyme, such as short-term memory loss, difficulty with speech and word recollection, loss of motor skills, depression, anxiety, hallucinations and other symptoms that may closely resemble Alzheimers disease or schizophrenia, finding a way to fight back is an absolute must.

Fortunately, the cognitive impairments often associated with Lyme Disease are well documented, and there are doctors, specialists and treatment centers who focus primarily on this kind of therapy.

Strategies can include everything from brain-training activities, such as biofeedback, to more internal treatments such as administering antibiotics intravenously to help correct memory recall issues by reducing inflammation of the brain if the infection is caught early on.

Treatment may take the form of a pharmaceutical approach, tackling the blood-brain barrier that causes symptoms of Lyme brain, aiming to penetrate this barrier, reduce inflammation, and stabilizing neurological function.

Choosing the Right Approach

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How Long Does Lyme Disease Last

Lyme disease symptoms can begin anywhere from three to 30 days after transmission of the infection from a tick. If treated early on with antibiotics, most people feel better within a few weeks, says Dr. Zemel.

According to the CDC, its not uncommon for people to experience lingering symptoms like fatigue and joint or muscle pain for a few weeks or months after treatment. Additional antibiotics wont help these symptoms, however, and most people improve on their own over time.

In a small percentage of cases, people continue to experience symptoms for more than six months after their recommended course of antibiotics is completed. This is sometimes referred to as chronic Lyme diseasebut that name is misleading, says Dr. Kuritzkes, because there is no evidence that the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is still present in the body. Instead, the CDC refers to this condition as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome .

As with many other kinds of infectious diseases, some people are left with some debilitating symptoms that dont go away, says Dr. Kuritzkes. I like to compare it to polio: Some people who had polio are left paralyzed, but that doesnt mean they have chronic polio they have permanent damage from the infection, even after its gone away.

Its possible that Lyme infection leads to some damage that we dont fully understand yet, Dr. Kuritzkes adds. But we do know that long-term or repeated courses of antibiotics have no benefit in these cases.

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Can Lyme Disease Change Your Personality

Neuropsychiatric symptoms are prominent. Lyme patients tend to have trouble with mood regulation, cognition, energy, sensory processing, and/or sleep. This can manifest into paranoia, hallucinations, mania, and/or obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Memory loss and concentration issues mirror other psychological disorders.

How Do You Diagnose Lyme & Tick

Can Lyme Disease Cause Memory Loss

Lyme and tick-borne disease are complex diseases that produce physical, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms that present differently in each patient. One person may experience severe joint pain, and another may have brain fog and anxiety. Yet, they both have a Tick-Borne illness.

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi . It is usually transmitted by the bite of an infected tick, but many also believe spiders and other biting insects can pass it on. Most people are shocked to learn that the bacteria can also be passed through the placenta of a pregnant woman to the fetus, which is referred to as congenital Lyme. Research from Schlesinger et al. denotes poor treatment outcomes for those with congenital Lyme.

Tick-borne disease symptoms may be acute, or they can wax and wane in a more long-term, chronic manner. Some symptoms appear immediately after a tick bite, but sometimes weeks, months or years pass before the disease presents making diagnosis and treatment even more complex. This waxing and waning of symptoms is confusing, leading to uncertainty regarding underlying cause. This makes one wonder if the tick bite or Lyme Disease one had months ago could be related to current symptoms.

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Study Finds Evidence Of Persistent Lyme Infection In Brain Despite Aggressive Antibiotic Therapy

Tulane University researchers found the bacterium that causes Lyme disease in the brain tissue of a woman who had long suffered neurocognitive impairment after her diagnosis and treatment for the tick-borne disease. The presence of the corkscrew-shaped Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes in the former Lyme disease patients brain and spinal cord were evidence of a persistent infection.

The findings were published in Frontiers in Neurology.

The 69-year-old woman, who experienced progressively debilitating neurological symptoms throughout her illness, decided to donate her brain to Columbia University for the study of the disease as her condition worsened. While she had first experienced the classic symptoms of Lyme disease 15 years prior and was treated accordingly after her diagnosis, she experienced continual neurological decline including a severe movement disorder and personality changes, and eventually succumbed to Lewy body dementia. Lewy body dementia is associated with abnormal protein deposits in the nerve cells of the brain which can cause impairment in thinking, movement and mood, leading to a severe form of dementia.

These findings underscore how persistent these spirochetes can be in spite of multiple rounds of antibiotics targeting them,

Monica Embers

This is the first time researchers have identified a possible correlation between Lyme disease infection and Lewy body dementia.

What Lyme Disease Does To Your Brain

is a bacterial infection that you catch when an infected deer tick bites you. The first symptoms can appear within a few days or weeks. They include a target-shaped , , fever, , , and . Often, doctors promptly recognize and treat Lyme disease with antibiotics. But when treatment is delayed, the infection can spread to other areas, including the nerves, liver and eyes. It can also spread to the central nervous systemthe brain and spinal cordand cause the following problems.

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Keeping It In Perspective

Its relatively uncommon for Lyme disease to cause brain effects. When Lyme disease does result in or problems with thinking and emotions, there are treatments that can help. Its also important to remember that only a very small portion of cognitive or psychiatric conditions are due to Lyme disease. In any case, talk with your doctor about identifying the cause of your problems and the treatment thats right for you.

Brain Inflammation And Lyme Disease

Lyme disease brain fog, memory loss no energy and eating right

According to another study from Johns Hopkins, a PET scan of the brains of those with PTLDS as compared to other brains showed higher levels of inflammation. The scans searched for a protein in different sections of the brain associated with inflammation. That found it at significantly higher levels in eight regions of the brain.

While researchers expected to find some inflammation, they instead found it widespread throughout the brain. Brain inflammation can cause the symptoms patients say they experience, including brain fog and difficulty in remembering. The results suggest that drugs designed to curb neuroinflammation may be able to treat PTLDS, the Johns Hopkins researchers wrote.

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment also can reduce brain inflammation and may hold promise in treating those who suffer cognitive impairment after getting Lyme disease. Those who have had Lyme disease can also benefit from knowing which foods can reduce the risk of brain inflammation.

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The Case Of A Retired Defence Intelligence Agency

The Washington Post also reported a case from an officer who has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

After surviving Leukaemia, the 81-year man was told that he had dementia. Sandra Boodman, the reporter, wrote that doctors were convinced that the retired agent was battling a fatal type of dementia that was rapidly progressive.

This led him to become delusional, moody, childish, and confused, something that he was not when he was a competent man.

This was a wrong diagnosis.

Later on, doctors discovered that he had Lyme meningoencephalitis when he started having challenges with walking, had tremors in his arms, and was also suffering from incontinence.

After a positive diagnosis for Lyme disease, he immediately started antibiotics for treatment and went on to make a full recovery.

Does Lyme Disease Lead To Cognitive Impairment

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One of the little-understood ramifications of Lyme disease is its impact on cognitive function. Many people who have the disease, including those in post-treatment, report lingering brain-related issues. Scientists in the last few years are trying to find objective results that support these subjective claims.

Research has shown that in some patients, Lyme disease leads to cognitive impairment, especially in verbal memory and processing speed. Another showed an increase in chemical markers that lead to brain inflammation, which has been associated with dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Some also have found an association between Lyme disease and mental health, including increased risk of depression.

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Is Your Loved Ones Memory Loss Due To Lyme Disease

Richard Horowitz, MD

Richard Horowitz, MD, medical director of the Hudson Valley Healing Arts Center, in Hyde Park, New York. He has treated more than 13,000 chronic Lyme disease patients over the last 31 years. He is a member of the US Department of Health and Human Services Tick-Borne Disease Working Group, cochair of the HHS Other Tick-Borne Diseases and Co-Infections Subcommittee and the author of How Can I Get Better? An Action Plan for Treating Resistant Lyme & Chronic Disease. The views expressed here are those of Dr. Richard Horowitz, and do not represent the views of the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group, the US Department of Health and Human Services or the United States.

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People who have been told that they have Alzheimers disease or another form of dementia owe it to themselves to ask their doctors one important questionCould it be Lyme disease?

Case in point: Singer Kris Kristofferson struggled for years with memory problems. His doctors suspected Alzheimers disease or brain damage from sports-related head injuries. Just last year, he got some surprising news: What he really had was Lyme disease, which often causes cognitive problems that can be misdiagnosed as Alzheimers disease.

The Case Study Pathology Is Characteristic Of Dementia With Lewy Bodies

Can Lyme Disease Cause Short Term Memory Loss

The fresh brain weighed 996 g and appeared atrophic Coronal sections through the left cerebral hemisphere and brain stem revealed mild enlargement of the lateral ventricle, particularly the temporal horn. The substantia nigra was normally pigmented or nearly so. Microscopically, nigral and cortical Lewy bodies, were seen with hematoxylin and eosin stain . Immunohistochemistry for -synuclein showed numerous immunoreactive Lewy bodies and fibers in substantia nigra, hippocampal formation and neocortex, Figures 4CE). IHC for hyperphosphorylated tau revealed intense staining of many limbic neurofibrillary tangles and neuropil threads , and of occasional neurofibrillary tangles in neocortex, but senile plaques were extremely rare, and each contained only a few fibrils . H& E showed prominent thickening of small blood vessels in gray and white matter, extensive mineralization of pallidal vessels, and rare microglial nodules in the hippocampal formation. Immunohistochemistry for Iba-1 , CD68 , and CD163 showed moderate numbers of activated microglia and large numbers of macrophages in hippocampal formation and spinal cord . In summary, we see DLB accompanied by features of Alzheimer’s disease, a common presentation.

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Evaluation According To Protocol

Patients were required to have pretreatment serological testing, lumbar puncture, neuro-psychological testing, and brain MRI. The antibody response to B. burgdorferi in serum was determined by indirect ELISA and Western blotting , and positive results were interpreted according to the CDC/ASTPHLD criteria . Spinal fluid was tested for total cells and protein, and concomitant serum and CSF samples were tested for intrathecal IgM, IgG, and IgA antibody production to B. burgdorferi by antibody capture enzyme assay, as previously described . A response in CSF that was> 1 times that in serum was defined as local synthesis of specific antibody in CSF. B. burgdorferi DNA was detected in CSF by PCR by use of 2 different primer-probe sets that target different regions of the plasmid DNA encoding outer-surface protein A of the spirochete, as previously described .

Routine brain MRI, without gadolinium enhancement, was performed in all patients. After August 1992, it became possible to perform quantitative single photon emission computed tomography of the brain, newly reported in one study to be of use in evaluation of Lyme encephalopathy . SPECT was not available when the study began, and only the last 7 patients entered into the study underwent SPECT imaging.

How Do You Treat Lyme & Tick

Access to proper tick bite treatment can often be hindered because there the medical community disagrees about how to identify those with Lyme Disease. Moreover, no perfect measures of identification exist. Lacking good measures for Lyme Disease, which has been readily accepted for decades, is compounded by lacking measures for the dozens of co-infections.

Diagnosis guidelines do not require positive blood work, yet many physicians erroneously use the CDC epidemiology study submission guidelines for diagnosis. Thus, patients are often forced to pay out of pocket for the best diagnostic tools available, which are through private lab companies.

Relying on incorrect guidelines means patients are told they must have 5 out of 10 bands to be diagnosed with Lyme. This creates a major barrier to quick and necessary tick bite treatment. Only clinical opinion after a physical exam is required to make a diagnosis of Lyme.

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The Stages Of Lyme Disease

With Lyme, people need to understand that there are two stages to the disease: Early- and Late-Disseminated Lyme Disease. Early-Disseminated disease occurs within days to weeks after the tick bite. Tick bite Lyme Disease treatment at this stage helps to prevent later problems. If not caught early, the infection may spread to many other parts of the body, affecting the central nervous system , the peripheral nervous system , the cardiovascular system, the liver, the eyes, and the muscles and joints.

During Late-Disseminated Lyme Disease, inflammation most commonly affects the joints and nervous system, and symptoms occur weeks, months or even years after a tick bite. This stage can also set in as little as two weeks after a bite. In some individuals, these symptoms may be the first symptoms of the disease. This makes it difficult to connect current depression or anxiety to a tick bite from months or years before. Moreover, if one had issues like depression, anxiety or learning difficulties before Lyme Disease, they may not make the connection to the Lyme when these issues worsen.

Insights On Neurological Lyme Disease

Understanding the Persistent Symptoms in Lyme Disease | Johns Hopkins Medicine

She rounds out her discussion of these issues by interviewing five professionals who know a lot about neurological Lyme disease. One is psychiatrist Robert Bransfield, MD, a top expert on how Lyme affects the brain . Another is Sandra Berenbaum, LCSW, with whom I co-authored the book When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parents Survival Guide. Others are Leo Shea, Ph.D., who has extensive experience with neuropsychological testing of children and adults with Lyme disease health advocate/blogger Scott Forsgren, founder of, who writes extensively on Lyme-related issues and Connie Strasheim, author of many books about Lyme disease. They all offer useful insights on the topic of Lyme disease brain.

Throughout the book, Ducharme offers practical information with a strong helping of optimism. As she writes early on:

I find that the majority of people with Lyme brain can find resolution or, at the very least, significant improvement of their symptoms.Im not saying its quick or easy, but I have seen remarkable improvements in people who started out very, very ill with horrible Lyme brain and are now back at work, running their families and living their lives as productive, happy people.

If you or a loved one has a problem with neurological Lyme disease symptoms, I think youll find this book both helpful and hopeful.

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