Is There A Blood Test For Lyme Disease
If your doctor suspects that you have Lyme disease, they may order two blood tests. These will look for signs that your body is trying to fight it off. The results are most precise a few weeks after youâve been infected.
These tests are:
ELISA test. This test canât check for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. It can only look for your immune systemâs response to it.
Although itâs the most common way to check for Lyme disease, the ELISA test isnât perfect. It can sometimes give false âpositiveâ results. On the other hand, if you have it done too soon after youâve been infected, your body may not have developed enough antibodies for the test to detect them. This will give you a ânegativeâ result even though you do have Lyme disease.
Western blot test. Whether your ELISA test comes back positive or negative, your doctor will need to do this blood test, too.
A Western blot uses electricity to split certain proteins in your blood into patterns. This is then compared to the pattern of people known to have Lyme disease.
At least five band matches means that you have Lyme disease. Still, not all labs have the same standards. Thereâs a chance that you could get a âpositiveâ result from one and a ânegativeâ result from another.
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Treatment Of Lyme Disease
Although all stages of Lyme disease respond to antibiotics, early treatment is more likely to prevent complications.
Antibiotics such as doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime, taken by mouth for 2 to 3 weeks, are effective during the early stages of the disease. If early disease is localized, people may need treatment for only 10 days. If people cannot take any of these drugs, azithromycin is sometimes used but is less effective. Usually, doxycycline is not given to children under 8 years old or to pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Antibiotics can also help relieve many of the symptoms of Lyme disease.
For arthritis due to Lyme disease, antibiotics such as amoxicillin, cefuroxime, or doxycycline are given by mouth for 28 days, or ceftriaxone is given intravenously for 28 days.
Antibiotics eradicate the bacteria and, in most people, relieve arthritis. However, arthritis sometimes lasts even after all the bacteria are gone because inflammation continues. Even after successful antibiotic treatment, some people still have other symptoms such as fatigue, headache, and mental problems.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as aspirin or ibuprofen, may relieve the pain of swollen joints. Fluid that collects in affected joints may be drained. Using crutches may help.
Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease
to take a sample of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord . Fragments of the bacteriaâs genetic material may be present and detected using the polymerase chain reaction technique Polymerase chain reaction Genetic diagnostic technologies are scientific methods that are used to understand and evaluate an organism’s genes. Genes are segments of deoxyribonucleic… read more . This technique produces many copies of a gene and enables doctors to identify Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria rapidly.
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Diagnosis Testing And Treatment
You may have heard that the blood test for Lyme disease is correctly positive only 65% of the time or less. This is misleading information. As with serologic tests for other infectious diseases, the accuracy of the test depends upon how long youve been infected. During the first few weeks of infection, such as when a patient has an erythema migrans rash, the test is expected to be negative.
Several weeks after infection, FDA cleared tests have very good sensitivity.
It is possible for someone who was infected with Lyme disease to test negative because:
If you are pregnant and suspect you have contracted Lyme disease, contact your physician immediately.
- Report being bitten by a tick, or
- Live in, or have recently visited, a tick-infested area.
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Disclaimer: The above material is provided for information purposes only. The material is not nor should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does it necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. or any of its directors, officers, advisors or volunteers. Advice on the testing, treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patients medical history. Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. makes no warranties of any kind regarding this Website, including as to the accuracy, completeness, currency or reliability of any information contained herein, and all such warranties are expressly disclaimed.
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Chronic Lyme Disease Patients Profoundly Debilitated
Many patients with chronic Lyme disease are profoundly debilitated. Investigators of the four NIH-sponsored retreatment trials documented that the patients quality of life was consistently worse than that of control populations and equivalent to that of patients with congestive heart failure. Pain levels were similar to those of post-surgical patients, and fatigue was on par with that seen in multiple sclerosis.
An LDo published survey of over 3,000 patients with chronic Lyme disease found that patients suffer a worse quality of life than most other chronic illnesses, including congestive heart failure, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and arthritis. Over 70% of patients with chronic Lyme disease reported fair or poor health. Similar results have been found in other studies. Many of the symptoms associated with Lyme disease are common in other diseases. The CDC surveillance criteria for confirmed cases specifically exclude most of the symptoms that patients report, including fatigue, sleep impairment, joint pain, muscle aches, other pain, depression, cognitive impairment, neuropathy, and headaches. However, these common symptoms can be severe and may seriously affect quality of life.
Achy Stiff Or Swollen Joints
Joint pain and stiffness, often intermittent, are early Lyme symptoms. Your joints may be inflamed, warm to the touch, painful, and swollen. You may have stiffness and limited range of motion in some joints .
Pain may move around. Sometimes your knees may hurt, whereas other times its your neck or your heels. You may also have bursitis . Bursae are the thin cushions between bone and surrounding tissue.
The pain may be severe, and it may be transitory. More than one joint may be affected. Most often the large joints are involved .
People often attribute joint problems to age, genetics, or sports. Lyme should be added to that list, as these statistics indicate:
- One study estimates that 80 percent of people with untreated Lyme have muscle and joint symptoms .
- Fifty percent of people with untreated Lyme have intermittent episodes of arthritis .
- Two-thirds of people have their first episode of joint pain within six months of the infection .
- Use of anti-inflammatory drugs may mask the actual number of people with joint swelling .
Joint pain that comes and goes, or moves from joint to joint, could be a sign of Lyme.
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Unexplained Pain And Other Sensations
Some people with Lyme may have sharp rib and chest pains that send them to the emergency room, suspecting a heart problem 00090-7/abstract%20″ rel=”nofollow”> 27).
When no problem is found, after the usual testing, the ER diagnosis is noted as an unidentified musculoskeletal cause.
You can also have strange sensations like skin tingling or crawling, or numbness or itchiness 00090-7/abstract%20″ rel=”nofollow”> 27).
Other symptoms have to do with cranial nerves.
- Ear-ringing . Tinnitus can be a nuisance, especially at bedtime when it seems to get louder as youre trying to fall asleep. About 10 percent of people with Lyme experience this (
- Hearing loss. One study reported that 15 percent of Lyme patients experienced loss of hearing .
- Jaw pain or toothaches that are not related to actual tooth decay or infection.
Feel Bad It Could Be Lyme Unless Proven Otherwise
Do you have symptoms that come and go? Are you on a medication merry go round? Have you been to 10 or 20 doctors without relief? Maybe you’ve been misdiagnosed.
Lyme disease, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, is the No. 1 vector borne spreading epidemic worldwide. People often attribute uncomfortable symptoms to aging, stress, or the “aches and pains of daily living,” especially if blood tests and body scans are normal. What if you have Lyme and don’t know it?
It’s not uncommon to get Lyme. If you’ve ever been for a walk in the woods, laid in the grass, live in or visited a Lyme-endemic area, or have a pet cat or dog, you may have exposed yourself to Lyme disease and associated co-infections. There is even the possibility of contracting Lyme if you were born to a mother who has been exposed. Tick born infections can also be transmitted from blood transfusions. This is scary, as Lyme has been found to persist in stored blood, and Ehrlichia and Babesia have been reported in patients receiving blood transfusions.
Lyme Looks Like Other Diseases
I interviewed Dr. Richard Horowitz, a board-certified internist in Hyde Park, N.Y., who has treated more than 12,000 chronically-ill patients with Lyme disease. This expert physician has noticed the trend of varying symptoms. He’s dubbed it “Lyme-MSIDS,” short for Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome.
Dr. Horowitz explained:
Your Symptoms Are Real Even If Your Doctor Can’t See Them
To Me, It’s Lyme Until Proven Otherwise
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How To Avoid Tick Bites
To reduce the chance of being bitten:
- cover your skin while walking outdoors and tuck your trousers into your socks
- use insect repellent on your clothes and skin products containing DEET are best
- stay on clear paths whenever possible
- wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to see and brush off
Chronic Lyme: What Happens When Lyme Goes Untreated
The Lyme community typically uses the term chronic Lyme disease to describe a range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms that crop up after getting Lyme disease and persist for months to years after infection.
The risk of chronic Lyme increases the longer a Lyme infection goes untreated or undertreated. In other words, patients are more likely to recover fully if their Lyme infection is detected and treated as early as possible after the discovery of a tick bite. This stage is usually marked by symptoms such as fevers, chills, muscle aches, and sometimes rashes.
When left untreated or undertreated, however, Lyme disease can spread throughout the body and affect:
- The central nervous system
- Muscles and joints
As Lymedisease.org points out, these symptoms can evolve, disappear, and reappear at different times.
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How To Remove Ticks
Tick bites aren’t always painful. You may not notice a tick unless you see it on your skin. Check your skin and your children’s or pets’ skin after being outdoors.
To remove a tick:
The risk of getting ill is low. You don’t need to do anything else unless you become unwell.
You’ve Been Diagnosed With Another Condition Without A Known Cause
“Like its cousin Syphilis, which is also caused by a spirochete bacterium, Lyme is called ‘the great imitator’ because it can impact any organ system or tissue of the body,” says Reihman. So, when someone is diagnosed with a condition that has no known cause, the cause is sometimes Lyme. Conditions that can stem from Lyme include Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Interstitial Cystitis, Autism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, chronic pelvic pain, Rheumatoid Arthritis, chronic migraines, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, as well as a number of mental health conditions.
“If the diagnosis doesn’t have a known cause or cure and you’re not satisfied with that as an answer, it’s worth it to look into getting treatment for Lyme and seeing if that makes a dent in your symptoms,” says Reihman.
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Your Symptoms Improve When You’re Taking Medication For Other Ailments
Patients taking antibiotics for an unrelated problem , will often report that their symptoms are much better while taking the antibiotic, and worsen when the antibiotic is stopped. Conversely, some individuals feel much worse on antibiotics, where all of their symptoms are intensified. This is called a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, where the Lyme bacteria are being killed off, and temporarily worsen the underlying symptoms.
How You Get Lyme Disease
If a tick bites an animal carrying the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, the tick can become infected. The tick can then transfer the bacteria to a human by biting them.
Ticks can be found in any areas with deep or overgrown plants where they have access to animals to feed on.
They’re common in woodland and moorland areas, but can also be found in gardens or parks.
Ticks don’t jump or fly. They climb on to your clothes or skin if you brush against something they’re on. They then bite into the skin and start to feed on your blood.
Generally, you’re more likely to become infected if the tick is attached to your skin for more than 24 hours. Ticks are very small and their bites are not painful, so you may not realise you have one attached to your skin.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Lyme Disease
Despite some skepticism in the medical community, chronic Lyme disease is a growing epidemic in the U.S. This stems partly from the shortcomings of many of the officially recommended Lyme disease tests, which leave too many patients with untreated infections that then become persistent and debilitating.
The following article will cover what you should know about chronic Lyme and provide an introductory but non-exhaustive chronic Lyme disease symptoms checklist.
Who Gets Lyme Disease
Anyone bitten by an infected deer tick can get Lyme disease. Most U.S. cases of Lyme disease happen in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. But Lyme disease is found in other parts of the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia too.
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Prevention Of Lyme Disease
People should take precautions to avoid being bitten by a tick. If people may have been exposed to ticks, they should check their whole body very carefully after each possible exposure and remove any ticks they find. Checking is effective because ticks must usually be attached for more than a day and a half to transmit Lyme disease.
Some Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms
As mentioned, chronic Lyme disease consists of a broad cluster of physical, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms. Some of these symptoms are much more common, while others almost never occur, but can be deadly. But even the less severe symptoms, such as chronic fatigue and pain, can lead to drastic changes in quality of life for chronic Lyme patients.
Chronic Lyme survivors have reported experiencing the following symptoms for months to years after infection:
- Intermittent fevers, chills, and sweats
- Chronic inflammation
- Numbness and tingling in the limbs
- Dizziness and shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Multiple-chemical sensitivities
Chronic Lyme disease can be linked to deadly symptoms, such as Lyme carditis .
According to Lymedisease.org, studies consistently show that chronic Lyme disease patients have poorer quality of life than those with other chronic diseases. One of their own studies showed that 75% of surveyed patients reported at least one symptom as severe or very severe.
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What Are The Second Stage Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
The symptoms of second stage, early disseminated, Lyme disease can be difficult to attribute. Symptoms include severe fatigue, fever, pain, intermittent weakness and achiness of the muscles and joints, numbness in arms and legs, vision changes, and cognitive dysfunction such as short-term memory difficulties and problems multitasking. These symptoms are not specific for Lyme disease and can make the diagnosis of second stage Lyme disease very challenging.
More recognizable Lyme disease nervous system manifestations include facial paralysis , or meningitis with severe headache and stiff neck. Notable cardiac manifestations include passing out or feeling faint from an abnormally slow heart rate, irregular heart palpitations, or unexplained difficulty tolerating exercise. Meningitis and carditis are both potentially serious Lyme disease conditions and warrant immediate medical attention.
The Numbers On Chronic Lyme
Because Lyme disease is commonly missed or misdiagnosed, statistics vary on how many Lyme patients go on to experience chronic symptoms. The following research nonetheless paints a basic picture of the problem.
- An estimated 5-20% of patients may have chronic symptoms after getting Lyme disease, according to the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
- The treatment failure rate for chronic Lyme disease patients was estimated at 26-50% in 2004, compared to 16-39% for early Lyme patients, according to Lymedisease.org.
- Up to 15-40% of late-stage Lyme patients develop neurological disorders, which are responsible for many common symptoms of chronic Lyme disease.
Experts dont know for sure why some people experience persistent symptoms, even with treatment. However, some believe the Lyme infection may trigger an auto-immune response that manifests in the chronic symptoms detailed below.
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