The Most Common Lyme Disease Blood Tests
The two most common diagnostic tests for Lyme disease are the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and the Western blot. These Lyme disease tests allow physicians to visualize the reaction between antibodies in an infected persons blood to specific antigens or parts of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
In the case of the Western blot, for example, antigens are separated by size and then transferred onto a membrane strip. When an antibody reacts with an antigen on the strip, that band will turn dark purple. For test results to be positive, a specific combination of bands on the membrane strip must be present.
Lyme Disease Blood Test Results Fully Explained
The Lyme disease blood test is used to discover if someone who has the symptoms of a Borrelia burgdorferi infection actually has the bacteria in their bloodstream. Recent infections are much easier to detect and an IgM and IgG blood test will often be ordered as complimentary information gathering tools. This blood test does not always detect the presence of the disease, so patients that have persistent symptoms after having the test may be re-tested in a few weeks.
If any of these tests come back as positive, then other samples will be used to track the stage of the disease to determine if it has reached the chronic infection stage. At this point, a medical provider will order a Western blot test to confirm the presence of Lyme disease.
What Is An At
An at-home Lyme disease test will typically be a blood finger prick test.
If you have been exposed to the bacteria Borrelia that leads to the infection of Lyme disease, your body will have created one or two antibodies to fight it off. The test will look for the presence of both types of antibodies, known as immunoglobulin M and immunoglobulin G .
You will receive your test kit along with account information so that you can get your test results as soon as theyre ready. Follow the manufacturers instructions exactly as they are described.
Each test has different instructions, so its important to read the kits detailed information before getting started.
- swollen lymph nodes
Lyme disease that remains unnoticed or untreated can go on to progress to disseminated Lyme disease. With disseminated Lyme disease, symptoms can also include neurologic conditions, such as cranial nerve palsy and meningitis that mimics aseptic meningitis. Heart inflammation can also be a sign of Lyme disease.
You may want to get tested for Lyme disease if youre experiencing symptoms and you either:
- know you were bitten by a tick
- recently spent time in an area where ticks are common
However, if youre currently experiencing a bulls-eye rash, its best to go to a doctor rather than take an at-home test. Thats because the outlook for Lyme disease is best when treated early.
When choosing at-home Lyme disease tests to feature, we looked at:
- ease of directions
- Collection method: blood
- Results: 25 days
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Intermittent Fasting Supports Gut Health
Lyme disease can do a number on the gut. It can slow down gastrointestinal motility, causing conditions such as gastroparesis and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth .
Intermittent fasting has been found to strengthen the gut barrier, which is the lining of the gut that prevents substances from leaking from your gut into your blood circulation. Compromised gut barrier function causes inflammation, so by fortifying the gut barrier, IF may help reduce systemic inflammation. This is a plus for those of us with Lyme disease who are already dealing with high inflammation levels.
It may also support a healthy gut microbiota! The gut microbiota is the collection of microorganisms in your digestive tract, including bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. Many Lyme disease patients struggle with gastrointestinal issues, such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion caused by a disrupted gut microbiota. Gut microbiota imbalances in Lyme disease can occur due to the infection or be triggered by antibiotic treatments. Research shows that intermittent fasting enhances the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including Akkermansia muciniphila, which helps protect against leaky gut and chronic inflammation.
Additional Potential Benefits of Fasting
Other potential benefits of intermittent fasting include the following:
- Improved appetite regulation
- Reduced depression and anxiety
- Promotes cellular repair
Investigation Of Suspected Lyme Disease
Erythema migrans is a clinical diagnosis and does not require confirmation by laboratory testing. Lyme disease is not a notifiable disease so there is no statutory requirement to notify clinically suspected cases to the local Health Protection Team.
The 2018 NICE Lyme disease guideline provides detailed advice about when a diagnosis of Lyme disease should be suspected and about which tests to use and when.
The NICE Lyme disease guideline also contains a useful summary diagram of the routine serological testing recommendations for Lyme disease.
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Fasting And Lyme Disease: What Are The Health Benefits
Fasting is all the rage right now, with people using various forms of fasting for different health goals and conditions, ranging from weight loss to enhancement of cognitive function. While were currently hearing much about fasting in the media, this practice is far from a fad diet! In fact, research shows that fasting can significantly lower inflammation, improve immune function, and enhance brain function.
Based on these health benefits, fasting can be helpful for many people with Lyme disease. Read on to learn about the connection between fasting and Lyme disease, the health benefits of fasting, and how these benefits can support Lyme disease recovery.
In This Article:
Alternative Diagnostic Tests Not Available At Ripl
Tests used by the NHS and UKHSA to identify Lyme disease are well characterised, standardised, and are highly reproducible between laboratories. They are the methods of choice recommended in the 2018 NICE Lyme disease guidelines, following an extensive review of the evidence and literature. International external quality assurance schemes are in place to ensure consistency between different centres offering these tests.
Several private laboratories in Europe and the US offer an alternative type of test called an ELISpot to diagnose Lyme disease. This looks for different markers in blood samples compared to conventional validated Lyme disease serology tests. The laboratories using these tests in the diagnosis of Lyme disease do not publish their methods, and have not produced peer reviewed publications on their clinical value.
This makes it very difficult to verify their results, especially as there are no national or international EQA schemes for Lyme disease ELISpot tests and therefore no independent verification of performance between laboratories. Without independent evidence it is impossible to determine the validity of results produced using these alternative tests.
RIPL cannot interpret the results of alternative diagnostic tests.
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So When Do You Need Blood Tests For Lyme Disease
In some cases, you can have Lyme disease without the rash. Or you may not see the rash before it goes away on its own.
In these cases, your doctor should ask you about your medical history and do a thorough physical exam. Your doctor should look for these signs that you might have Lyme disease:
- You were in an area with ticks and Lyme disease.
- You also have fever or redness, warmth, and swelling in one or a few joints at a time usually the knees, shoulders, or wrists.
Other symptoms can occur later on. Talk to your doctor about testing and treatment choices.
This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.
Positive Elisa On Serum
RIPL will automatically proceed to do IgM and IgG immunoblot tests after a positive or indeterminate ELISA test and will provide an overall interpretation of the ELISA and immunoblot in the light of the clinical details provided on the request form.
Please provide clinical details to allow the interpretation of serological results. These are needed for interpretation because borrelia-specific antibodies may persist for several years in patients who have had Lyme disease in the past, long after the bacteria have been cleared from the body. Therefore, detection of borrelia specific antibodies in someone with no evidence of current clinical symptoms or recent tick exposure argues against active Lyme disease infection. After successful treatment of Lyme disease antibody concentrations may slowly fall over time.
Borrelia species are notifiable organisms. The numbers of positive results from laboratory confirmed cases in RIPL are reported to UKHSA and analysed for inclusion in UKHSA Health Protection Reports as part of Lyme disease epidemiology and surveillance.
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Management Of Individuals Without Symptoms Following A Tick Bite
Diagnostic testing is not recommended for individuals who do not develop any symptoms suggestive of Lyme disease after a tick bite.
Some commercial companies offer services to test removed ticks for the presence of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. PHE does not provide such tick-testing services. The results of such tests should not be used to inform diagnosis or treatment. A positive result does not mean that the infected tick will have passed on the bacteria there are many factors that determine whether Lyme disease results from the bite of an infected tick. A negative result may not be technically valid and could give false assurance, as it does not exclude the possibility that another tick elsewhere on the body has been missed by the patient.
PHE runs a tick surveillance scheme and is happy to receive ticks for species identification and to monitor tick distribution.
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The Igenex Lyme Immunoblot Solves These Problems
IGeneX has developed a serological test that increases specificity without sacrificing sensitivity that has changed how to test for Lyme disease. It uses specifically created recombinant proteins from multiple species and strains of Lyme borreliae and reduces inconsistencies in reading and interpreting the test bands.
More species detected The Lyme ImmunoBlot tests for more species of Lyme borreliae than the traditional ELISA and Western blot tests, reducing the risks of false negatives due to the inability to detect antibodies to a certain strain or species of Lb. The test includes all Borrelia-specific antigens relevant in North America and Europe, not just B. burgdorferi B31 or 297.
The result is a single test that replaces at least 8 Western blots.
More accurate testing The ImmunoBlot uses specific recombinant proteins that are sprayed in precise amounts onto specific locations on the membrane strip, allowing for greater control of the quantity and location of the antigens. This makes reading the bands much more accurate and consistent.
Earlier detection The ImmunoBlot can detect infections at multiple stages of illness, letting you catch infections earlier.
The IgM and IgG ImmunoBlots superior specificity and sensitivity make them the best Lyme disease test available.
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Lyme Sci: On The Road To Better Ways Of Testing For Lyme Disease
There are several existing tests for Lyme available to physicians. Some are better than others at detecting disease. But while these tests may help your doctor diagnose you, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will only count Lyme cases that test positive by an FDA-cleared test and if the case meets the CDC surveillance guidelines. 1
Currently, the only Lyme tests the CDC recommends are blood tests that detect antibodies to B. burgdorferi. 2 Antibodies are produced by the immune system to help identify and destroy invading pathogens.
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Is There A Lyme Disease Test Kit
Blood collection kits are available for at-home Lyme disease testing. Lyme disease test kits can cost as less as $20 and as much as $100 or more. Using a Lyme disease test kit is as simple as pricking your finger and smearing or collecting the blood onto the kit for testing.
However, testing for Lyme disease in a more controlled environment such as a lab or clinic is preferable as qualified healthcare professionals are likely to perform a more reliable test.
Waddell L. A., et al. . The accuracy of diagnostic tests for Lyme disease in humans, a systematic review and meta-analysis of North American research. PLoS One. 2016 11: e0168613. Retrieved from
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You Do Not Usually Need Tests To Show That You Have Lyme Disease
In most cases, theres a clear sign of Lyme diseasea painless, spreading rash that often grows to look like a bulls eye. If you have this rash, and you recently had a tick bite or were in an area known for Lyme disease, you dont need a test. Instead, your doctor can just start treating you with antibiotics, as appropriate.
The Blood Tests Can Have False Positives
The blood tests can trigger false positives, suggesting that you have the disease when you really dont. This can happen in up to one out of four tests.
This can lead to unnecessary treatment with antibiotics. These drugs are usually safe, but they sometimes cause side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight. In rare cases, they can even cause dangerous allergic reactions.
Using too many antibiotics can also lead to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. This means that bacteria in your body may get stronger and more difficult to treat with antibiotics in the future.
A false positive can also lead to more unneeded blood tests, urine tests, X-rays, and doctor visits.
If you have a false positive, you may not get treated for the real cause of your pain. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that causes joint pain. It can lead to permanent and severe joint damage if you do not start taking the right medicines as early as possible.
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The Role Of Lyme Disease Tests
The purpose of the most common type of Lyme disease testing is to determine whether you have developed antibodies as a result of past exposure to the Borrelia bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Antibodies are proteins created by the immune system that target specific threats like bacteria and viruses.
Blood testing alone cannot determine whether you have Lyme disease. Instead, testing can provide helpful information that your doctor can consider along with other factors, such as any symptoms youve had and whether youve been exposed to ticks that can carry Borrelia, to determine if a diagnosis of Lyme disease is appropriate.
Beyond blood testing, it is possible to analyze fluid from the central nervous system for signs of the Borrelia bacteria.
If The C6 Test Is Positive What Is The Next Step
A positive C6 test means antibodies to C6 were found. The next step is to do a QC6 test, which determines if the levels of antibody are high enough to justify treatment. If the value of the QC6 is higher than 30 IU/mL and signs of illness are present, then antibiotic treatment should be considered. If the QC6 is less than 30 IU/mL and there are no signs of illness, then treatment may not be necessary.
In addition to doing the QC6 test, your veterinarian may want to take samples of blood and urine to assess kidney function and to look for protein in the urine. A positive test for protein in the urine could signal serious underlying kidney disease.
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Lyme Disease Laboratory Tests Available At Ripl
The primary service provided by RIPL is serological testing using well-characterised and validated screening and confirmatory tests in accordance with the NICE Lyme disease guideline.
RIPL participates in regular external quality assurance exercises as an independent measure of its performance.
Details of prices and turnaround times for Lyme testing are provided in Appendix 1 of the RIPL user manual.
How Can You Prevent Lyme Disease
The best way to avoid Lyme disease is simple: steer clear of ticks! Ticks tend to live in wooded areas with lots of bushes and long grass. That means youre not only at risk when youre out on a hike or a camping tripyou could also be bit if you have tall grass or trees in your own yard.
Heres how to protect yourself from bites:
- Wear long sleeves and pants in wooded and grassy areas
- Spray yourself with repellent that contains 20% DEET, like Deep Woods Off
- Clear weeds and brush from your yard
- Check your body thoroughly after youve spent time in a tick-prone areaespecially hard-to-see parts of your body
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How Is It Used
Insulin testing may be used to help:
- Diagnose an insulinoma, verify that removal of the tumor has been successful, and/or to monitor for recurrence
- Diagnose the cause of hypoglycemia in an individual with signs and symptoms
- Identify insulin resistance
- Monitor the amount of insulin produced by the beta cells in the pancreas in this case, a C-peptide test may also be done. Insulin and C-peptide are produced by the body at the same rate as part of the conversion of proinsulin to insulin in the pancreas. Both tests may be ordered when a health practitioner wants to evaluate how much insulin in the blood is made by the body and how much is from outside sources such as insulin injections. The test for insulin measures insulin from both sources while the C-peptide test reflects insulin produced by the pancreas.
- Determine when a type 2 diabetic might need to start taking insulin to supplement oral medications
- Determine and monitor the success of an islet cell transplant intended to restore the ability to make insulin, by measuring the insulin-producing capacity of the transplant
Insulin testing may be ordered with glucose and C-peptide tests. Insulin levels are also sometimes used in conjunction with the glucose tolerance test . In this situation, blood glucose and insulin levels are measured at pre-established time intervals to evaluate insulin resistance.