Treating Neurologic Lyme Disease
Facial palsy is treated with oral antibiotics and Lyme meningitis can either be treated with oral or intravenous antibiotics, depending on severity. Most people experiencing the early onset of Lyme disease respond well to antibiotic therapy and fully recover. If you dont seek immediate treatment, there are varying degrees of permanent nervous system damage that may develop in late-stage Lyme disease.
To add to that, they will notice a slow degradation of the body functions leading to arthritis, heart problems, and neurological problems affecting the brain and the nervous system. Patients can experience persistent pain, fatigue, or cognitive disability that lasts as long as 6 months, sometimes even years.
Neurologic Lyme disease requires a specific intravenous antibiotic protocol to rid the bacteria from your central nervous system and brain tissue.
What To Know About Seeing A Doctor And Getting Tested
Whatever kind of doctor you see, they will consider your medical history, your symptoms, and your Lyme disease test results when making a diagnosis. They should perform what is known as a differential diagnosis in order to rule out common misdiagnoses, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ALS, MS, etc.
Many doctors rely on the two-tier system recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which consists of the following two blood tests:
- Western blot test
However, research shows that these tests are severely limited in accuracy and sensitivity. A LLMD may be able to help you get tested with newer and more accurate testing technology.
Lyme disease recovery starts with finding a doctor who has sufficient experience with Lyme as well as access to the right diagnostic testing. To learn more about what tests are available for Lyme disease today, including IGeneXs ImmunoBlot test, check out the blog The Best Test for Lyme Disease.
Treating Lyme Disease: When Will Science Catch Up
Cases of Lyme disease appear to be rising but there are still many unanswered questions about the condition, its diagnosis and the available treatment options.
K H Kjeldsen / Science Photo Library
After being bitten by ticks in her Devonshire garden, a spreading rash appeared on Stella Huyshe-Shiress hip. Soon afterwards, her health began to deteriorate but she had no idea what was causing her pain, lack of energy and other problems. It was three years before a positive blood test confirmed Lyme disease, a test Huyshe-Shires asked for after recognising her symptoms in a letter about the spread of the tick-borne illness in a local newspaper.
I was getting lots of things wrong with me and its not the sort of thing you expect to happen to you until youre 80, explains Huyshe-Shires, who was 48 years old when she got the rash. By the time she was diagnosed, her list of ailments was long. She had lost half a stone, experienced pain in her back, legs and feet, felt numbness in her face and other parts of her body, had reduced reflexes in her eye, as well as distorted hearing, critical fatigue and poor concentration. The disease was having an impact on every aspect of her life.
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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.
Purify Your System Of Toxins
A toxic environment impedes recovery from any illness. And unfortunately, chronic systemic inflammation and neurological inflammation can compromise detoxification and waste removal processes in the brain and body even further.
Toxic substances can enter the body by three routes oral, respiration, and skin so step one is minimizing the inflow. To reduce oral toxins, avoid processed food products, and eat a fresh, whole food diet weighted toward vegetables . Clean water is also key, and is as simple as installing a water filter.
Regularly changing your HVAC air filters and placing free-standing HEPA filters in rooms where you spend the majority of your time can go a long way toward improving indoor air quality. Breathing fresh air in natural places as often as possible can also promote healing.
As for your skin, adopting a practice of using only natural skin care products allows you to avoid a surprising number of toxic substances commonly found in commercial skin care products. The same goes for household cleaning supplies. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource for finding toxin-free consumer products.
Supplements that support detoxification in the body include activated B vitamins for enhanced methylation , and glutathione, NAC, and alpha lipoic acid to support cellular functions and detoxification. Dandelion and milk thistle protect the liver and stimulate bile flow, which is essential for removing toxic substances from the body.
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Dr Elena Frid: Autoimmune Disorders And Infectious Processes
If a patient comes in to see you and you suspect they have an infection or multiple infections that have induced some kind of autoimmune syndrome, Lupus or MS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome how do you determine, one, that they have an ongoing infection and if they have an autoimmune syndrome?I rely on detailed history taking, physical exam findings, extensive blood testing, which may include some specialty labs, imaging studies such as MRIs and brain SPECT, and other diagnostic tools including Electroencephalogram , Nerve conduction studies/Electromyography , Lumbar puncture , neurocognitive assessment and others depending on clinical presentation.
Why Are Antibiotics The First Line Of Treatment For Lyme Disease
The use of antibiotics is critical for treating Lyme disease. Without antibiotic treatment, the Lyme disease causing bacteria can evade the host immune system, disseminate through the blood stream, and persist in the body. Antibiotics go into the bacteria preferentially and either stop the multiplication of the bacteria or disrupt the cell wall of the bacteria and kill the bacteria . By stopping the growth or killing the bacteria the human host immune response is given a leg up to eradicate the residual infection. Without antibiotics, the infection in Lyme disease can evade the host immune system and more readily persist.
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Unravelling The Mystery Of Lyme Disease: Why Canada Needs To Do More
Rian Michelsen is a rising star. Fifteen years ago, he was the toddler who burst out from behind the curtains singing Elvis Viva Las Vegas. As a young boy, he played the lead role in Oliver in his birthplace of Bermuda, before moving with his family to Toronto five years ago.
Now, as a 17 year-old high school student, hes a gifted singer and dancer, and attends the renowned Etobicoke School of the Arts. He works as a professional actor and has appeared in numerous high profile television programs, including Murdoch Mysteries and Flashpoint. In short, Rian is more determined than ever to realize his dreams. But last year those dreams were almost destroyed by a debilitating disease that went undiagnosed for several months.
He couldnt get out of bed, he felt his brain shaking at night, had floaters in his eyes, he couldnt walk and every time he stood up he felt like he was going to fall over, explains Tanis Michelsen, Rians mother.
A series of blood tests revealed that Rian was reactive to the Epstein-Barr virus, had a very low white blood cell count and was low in vitamin B12. His family physician suggested Rian take vitamins and rest. He did that but still didnt feel well enough to rehearse or perform and came home every day after school exhausted.
Thats when Tanis Michelsen decided she needed to look beyond the Canadian medical system.
While the protocol helped Rian, he still had grave difficulty coping with everyday life.
Getting A Correct Diagnosis
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
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What To Expect
Prior to your first appointment, one of our rheumatologists will review your records, particularly previous Lyme testing. Based on this evaluation, you will either be scheduled for a formal appointment, or referred to one of our colleagues in Neurology, Infectious Disease, or another appropriate specialist for the best care available for your specific case.
At your first appointment, one of our rheumatologists will review your history, perform a physical examination and decide which tests are necessary for diagnostic purposes.
Many symptoms of Lyme disease can be seen in other conditions. Our physicians’ experience with Lyme diseaseand the diagnostic tests we have developedhelp us recognize that infection or differentiate it from other diseases, and if Lyme disease, determine what stage it is in. We treat patients according to the Infectious Disease Society of America guidelines.
Most patients with Lyme disease respond well to a three-to-four-week course of oral antibiotics . Patients who do not have symptoms early in the infection or are not treated for early-stage Lyme disease may develop organ-system involvement of the infection.
Mass General’s Multidisciplinary Approach
What Is A Lyme
A LLMD is a physician whose experience with Lyme disease patients makes them familiar with the vast range of symptoms, co-infections, and complications associated with the disease at various stages. Because of this knowledge and expertise, many patients also find LLMDs more open-minded and understanding of their experiences, especially if theyre having a hard time getting an accurate diagnosis from another physician.
But how do you know if you need to see a LLMD? Below are some common reasons, any or all of which may apply to you.
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My Experience With Antibiotic Treatment For Lyme
When I was first diagnosed with Lyme disease, my first response was standard: Try antibiotics. But every time I started a new round, I was absolutely miserable by the second week.
Nausea, abdominal discomfort, and feeling generally terrible all over increased until I was forced to stop the drug. Probiotics didnt help, and I had the same response to different types of antibiotics. While some people tolerate antibiotic therapy better than others, it became obvious that I would have to find a different solution.
I later discovered that my experience was not unique many people seem to have the same response to oral antibiotics. I also met numerous people who had undergone 6-9 months of intravenous antibiotic therapy, only to be right back where they started within a couple of months of finishing.
Though there may be some logic in using antibiotics for 2-4 weeks during acute infection, many people develop symptoms despite initial use of antibiotics. And as I came to know the microbe better, I began to understand why antibiotics are not necessarily a good treatment for chronic Lyme disease. Though some people do overcome Lyme disease with antibiotics, those results arent consistent enough to be considered reliable. To date, no clinical studies have shown benefit from long-term antibiotic therapy for chronic Lyme disease.
Cns Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome
This is most commonly a complication of starting antiretroviral therapy in the setting of HIV whereby prior infections of the nervous system are rekindled or discovered once the immune system regains enough strength to attack the infecting organism. This can lead to destruction of normal nervous system tissue if severe. Most organisms implicated are those seen in opportunistic infections, such as Cryptococcus, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, and tuberculosis, but many agents have been reported.
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What Is Neurologic Lyme Disease
Neurologic symptoms of Lyme disease occur when the Lyme disease bacteria affect the peripheral or central nervous systems.
- Cranial nerve involvement: When the cranial nerves are affected, facial palsy can occur on one or both sides of the face.
- Peripheral nerve involvement: When the peripheral nerves are affected, patients can develop radiculoneuropathy which can cause numbness, tingling, shooting pain, or weakness in the arms or legs.
- Central nervous system involvement: When the central nervous system is affected, Lyme meningitis can cause fever, headache, sensitivity to light, and stiff neck.
Out of every 100 patients whose cases are reported to CDC, 9 have facial palsy, 4 have radiculopathy, and 3 have meningitis or encephalitis. Because of reporting practices, this statistic may overestimate how often these manifestations are seen by clinicians.
The Different Types Of Doctors Who Can Test For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a tick-borne infectious disease caused by a group of spiral-shaped bacteria we now refer to as Lyme borreliae. This includes, but is not limited to, Borrelia burgdorferi. It is treatable with antibiotics, but in order to have the best chance at full recovery, its crucial to get your disease diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. That means finding the right doctor.
But what kind of doctor tests for Lyme disease? You may be wondering if you need to see a specific kind of physician to get the right test and treatment. The answer can depend on your particular situation.
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False Negatives And Positives
Since early treatment is crucial to prevent complications, accurate diagnosis is essential. Those who have a history of tick bites and a bullseye rash do not need to be tested and should be treated as if they have Lyme disease. However, when the picture is less clear but Lyme disease is suspected, laboratory testing is recommended. False negative results are common in early Lyme disease because the standard test detects antibodies to the Borrelia bacteria and these take several weeks to develop. In addition, some people who receive antibiotics within the first few weeks of a tick bite may not develop antibodies or may only develop them at levels too low to be detected by the test.
In line with this, the NHS Highland National Lyme Borreliosis Testing Laboratory advises that patients with a clinical history consistent with early Lyme disease who have a negative test should be retested six to eight weeks after symptom onset. It is also possible for the antibody test to give a false positive result, so positive tests are confirmed using a second test, called a Western Blot.
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.
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Neurological Infections In Travelers/immigrants
Many infectious diseases that affect the nervous system can be acquired from other parts of the United States or other parts of the world. In the United States, several regional viruses and fungi can cause encephalitis and/or meningitis that individuals coming from endemic regions may have been exposed to. Worldwide, neurocysticercosis, poliomyelitis, malaria, schistosomiasis, rabies, chikungunya virus, dengue fever, leptospirosis, Tick-Borne encephalitis virus, cycloviruses, and melioidosis are some of the infections that can be acquired which affect the nervous system.