Understanding The Acute Inflammatory Response
Suppose youre walking barefoot in the yard one summer day and accidentally step on a sharp piece of glass hidden in the grass. Pain alerts you to the injury and you stop to assess the situation. If the wound isnt deep, youre up to date on your tetanus vaccination, and a rinse in the sink reveals no foreign objects in the wound, you place a bandage over the area, and youre back on your way.
Swelling occurs because blood vessels dilate to allow an influx of WBCs and flush the area with fluid. Macrophages and arriving WBCs engulf debris, foreign matter, and microbes that have entered through the open wound, and destroy the material with potent free radicals and hypochlorous acid. Its a noxious process that causes collateral damage to normal cells, but its part of the healing process.
Once the injury is contained and the mess is cleaned up, WBCs migrate out of the area. Surviving cells repair damage from the injury and the inflammatory process itself. Gradually evidence of the injury disappears like nothing had ever happened.
Chelation Therapy For Lyme Disease
Its done using a type of medication called a chelator or chelating agent. This medication binds to metals in the bloodstream, collecting them into a compound that can be processed by your kidneys and released in urine.
Chelation therapy is an effective treatment for a buildup of heavy metals. But theres no evidence that heavy metals contribute to Lyme disease, and chelation therapy wont treat the underlying infection.
Ongoing Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
A few people who are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease continue to have symptoms, like tiredness, aches and loss of energy, that can last for years.
It’s not clear why this happens to some people and not others. This means there’s also no agreed treatment.
Speak to a doctor if your symptoms come back, or do not improve, after treatment with antibiotics.
The doctor may be able to offer you further support if needed, such as:
- referral for a care needs assessment
- telling your employer, school or higher education institution that you require a gradual return to activities
- communicating with children and families’ social care
Page last reviewed: 05 July 2021 Next review due: 05 July 2024
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How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed And Treated
Lyme disease is usually diagnosed when a person develops a bull’s-eye rash, flu-like symptoms , or both. These symptoms usually start a few days or weeks after the person is bitten by an infected tick.
A two-step blood test can verify the presence of Lyme disease antibodies, although it does take a few weeks for those antibodies to develop. And despite what some physicians and advocacy groups claim, a blood test is the only way Lyme disease can be confirmed, Larry Zemel, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine told Health. “Some healthcare providers say they can diagnose Lyme even when patients test negative repeatedly, but that has not been borne out by any scientific study,” said Dr. Zemel.
When people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in its early stages, a 10- to 20-day course of oral antibioticsusually with a drug called doxycyclinewill clear the infection and help them feel better fairly quickly. “This cures the vast majority of people, and they have a 100% recovery with no lasting effects,” said Dr. Zemel.
If Lyme disease isn’t diagnosed right away, it can cause more serious symptoms like arthritis and memory problems. These people may need a full month of oral antibiotics, said Dr. Zemel. About 20% of these patients will need IV antibiotics , and they may also need other medications to treat symptoms like pain and muscle stiffness.
Living With Lyme Disease
Once antibiotics resolve the infection, you can support your recovery from Lyme disease as you would with any kind of arthritis or nerve injury. It is recommended that you:
- Eata healthy diet and limit your sugar intake.
- Getplenty of rest.
- Exerciseat least three times a week for at least 30 minutes each day.
- Useanti-inflammatory medication when necessary.
The damageLyme disease causes to your nerves or muscles would heal over a course ofmonths, Dr. Sullivan says. Identifying the infection and treating itappropriately so that the infection is cleared is the first step. And then thebody can start to heal.
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How I Stopped Chasing A Cureand Healed From Lyme Disease
At 28 years old, and after years of suffering from medical issues that no doctor across the U.S. could unravel, I was finally given a name to the condition that had taken almost my entire life away: late-stage Lyme disease.
I took my diagnosis like an over-sized bag of groceries at the checkout stand, wrapped my arms around as best I could, and set off to get a cure and get back to life.
But it didnt work seamlessly. It didnt work easily. It really didnt work at all.
I tried treatment after treatment trying to save my young life. With some treatments, I saw massive improvement, only later to rebound in ways that deflated me again.
But I continued searching with inner chaos, ruled by fear. I feared I was missing the cure, not choosing the right treatments, not looking in the right places.
I went on marathon internet searches, talked to everyone I could find with Lyme disease, and was in a constant state of panic that my broken body would never be put back together again.
Lyme Disease Symptoms Are Wide
Lyme disease can mimic hundreds of other conditions since its symptoms mirror many medical problems such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome or lupus, and is sometimes known as The Great Imitator because of this. for a more complete list of possible symptoms.
Symptoms can play a key role in diagnosing Lyme disease. Due to the lack of an accurate diagnostic test, many patients are diagnosed based on a combination symptoms and diagnostic testing. This makes it extremely important for patients to keep track of all the symptoms they experience, to share with their healthcare provider.
When do Lyme disease symptoms appear? Learn about the Stages of Lyme disease:
Lyme disease symptoms can vary based on stage of the disease and if other tick-borne infections are present and can change over time.
Symptoms in acute Lyme disease
Acute Lyme disease occurs days to weeks after the initial tick bite and infection, in which the bacteria have not yet spread from the site of infection in the skin.
The most common symptoms in acute Lyme disease are the ones people are most familiar with, because they are symptoms often shared with other illnesses however, its important to recognize that they could indicate Lyme, and you should see a Lyme-treating physician right away.
Symptoms in early disseminated Lyme disease
Symptoms in late stage Lyme disease
- neurologic features including vertigo or dizziness,
- difficulty sleeping
Some common questions
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When Do Symptoms Of Lyme Disease Appear
Stage 1: Early Localized Disease
Symptoms with early localized Lyme disease may begin hours, a few days or even weeks after a tick bite. At this point, the
infection has not yet spread throughout the body. Lyme is the easiest to cure at this stage.
Symptoms may include:
- skin rash, which may or may not look like a bulls eye
- flu-like illness, including chills and fever
- muscle soreness and joint pain
- swollen lymph nodes
- sore throat
Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme
Early disseminated Lyme may occur several weeks or months after the tick bite. Bacteria are beginning to spread throughout the body. In addition to flu-like symptoms, this stage is often characterized by increase in symptoms such as:
- pain, weakness or numbness in the arms, legs
- vision changes
- heart problems, such as palpitations, chest pain
- rash may appear on body
- facial paralysis
Stage 3: Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Many have asked, do you ever get rid of Lyme disease? Can Lyme disease return? If Lyme disease isnt promptly or effectively treated in the first two stages, late disseminated Lyme occurs weeks, months or even years after the tick bite. The Lyme bacteria have spread throughout the body and many patients develop chronic arthritis as well as an increase in neurological and cardiac symptoms. Symptoms may include:
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What Do You Do If There’s A Tick Under Your Skin
Use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to remove it as soon as possible. Pull upward with steady pressure. If parts of the tick are still in your skin, try to get those with the tweezers, too. After everything is out, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
You probably wonât get infected if you remove the tick within 36 to 48 hours.
How do you throw away a tick?
Put it in soapy water or alcohol, stick it to a piece of tape, or flush it down the toilet.
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Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
A circular or oval shape rash around a tick bite can be an early symptom of Lyme disease in some people.
The rash can appear up to 3 months after being bitten by an infected tick, but usually appears within 1 to 4 weeks. It can last for several weeks.
The rash can have a darker or lighter area in the centre and might gradually spread. It’s not usually hot or itchy.
The rash may be flat, or slightly raised, and look pink, red, or purple when it appears on white skin. It can be harder to see the rash on brown and black skin and it may look like a bruise.
Some people also get flu-like symptoms a few days or weeks after they were bitten by an infected tick, such as:
- a high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
- tiredness and loss of energy
Some people with Lyme disease develop more severe symptoms months or years later.
This is more likely if treatment is delayed.
These more severe symptoms may include:
- pain and swelling in joints
- nerve problems such as pain or numbness
- heart problems
- trouble with memory or concentration
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- I found a tick embedded in my skin, but I cant get it out. What should I do?
- Ive been bitten by a tick. Do I need to be seen?
- Do I need a blood test to confirm Lyme disease?
- Which antibiotic is best for me?
- How long will I have to take the antibiotic?
- What tick or insect repellent should I use for me or my child?
- How long will the symptoms last?
- What should I do if I still dont feel well a long time after I was bitten?
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The Vaccine You Never Knew About
A more direct way of controlling Lyme disease, of course, would be to vaccinate people to stop the infection from jumping from ticks to humans. Telford and Smith were both involved in studies in the early 1990s, led in part by Allen Steere, to create a vaccine called LYMErix. It worked by spurring the body to create antibodies to Borrelias outer surface protein lipid A a technique shown in trials of around 15,000 patients to be about 80 percent effective in preventing Lyme infection. It would have prevented hundreds of thousands of cases, Telford said.
Sam Telford. Photo: Alonso Nichols/Tufts University
Sam Telford. Photo: Alonso Nichols/Tufts University
The good news is that once Lyme disease is diagnosed, it is usually treatable with just a short round of doxycycline, which can clear up the infection in as little as 10 to 14 days. A small number of people take longer to get over the disease, requiring several months to recover. A smaller subset of those, however, develop a more chronic syndromesometimes called Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome to distinguish it from the active infection by the pathogen. Kalish compares it to chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, a chronic musculoskeletal condition accompanied by fatigue and cognitive issues.
Who’s At Risk And Where Are Ticks Found
The risk of getting Lyme disease is higher:
- for people who spend time in woodland or moorland areas
- from March to October because more people take part in outdoor activities
Ticks are found throughout the UK and in other parts of Europe and North America. There are a high number of ticks in the Scottish Highlands.
It’s thought only a small proportion of ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Being bitten doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be infected. However, it’s important to be aware of the risk and speak to a GP if you start to feel unwell.
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When To See A Doctor
A person should see a doctor if they have recently received a tick bite. It is not possible to know whether a tick is carrying Lyme disease, and the symptoms may take weeks to appear.
The earlier a person receives a diagnosis and treatment, the higher the likelihood of a quick and complete recovery.
It is not always possible for a person to tell if a tick has bitten them. As such, people should also see a doctor if they experience any Lyme disease symptoms. A doctor will ask about the persons symptoms and duration and whether the person has spent time in tick-infested areas.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated
With early-stage Lyme disease, youâll take antibiotics for about 10 days to 3 weeks. The most common ones are amoxicillin, cefuroxime, and doxycycline. The antibiotics will almost always cure your infection. If they donât, you might get other antibiotics either by mouth or as a shot.
If you donât treat your Lyme infection, you might need oral antibiotics for symptoms like weakened face muscles and irregular heartbeat. You may need antibiotics if you have meningitis, inflammation in your brain and spinal cord, or more severe heart problems.
If your Lyme is late stage, the doctor might give you antibiotics either by mouth or as a shot. If it causes arthritis, youâll get arthritis treatment.
Thereâs no therapy for post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.
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What Should I Do If I Find A Tick On My Child
Don’t panic. First Lyme disease is spread by the black-legged tick, not by the larger and more-common dog tick. The risk of developing Lyme disease after a black-legged tick bite is low, especially if the tick has been attached for a short time.
If you find a tick on your child, remove it using a fine-tipped pair of tweezers. Grasp the body of the tick and pull in an upward motion until the tick comes out. Do not squeeze or twist the ticks body. Take note of the ticks size and color, and how long you think it has been attached to your child.
If your child has been bitten by a black-legged tick that has been attached for more than 24 hours and you are in a Lyme disease endemic area, consult with your pediatrician. In some cases, your child may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent Lyme disease from developing.
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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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Other Natural Treatments For Lyme Disease
The treatments discussed above are only some of the natural treatments that claim to treat Lyme disease. According to a 2015 study looking at the alternative treatments found during an Internet search, other natural treatments people use for Lyme disease include:
- saunas and steam rooms
- bee venom
The investigators noted that theres no research backing up these treatments, any many dont have a logical rationale behind them.
When Inflammation Becomes Chronic
Imagine if the acute inflammatory process was going on in tissues throughout your body and it never resolved. Thats exactly what happens with the chronic inflammation associated with chronic Lyme disease.
The driving force is bacteria invading cells. Its not an all-out invasion like you would find with an acute infection, such as pneumonia, however. Its an insidious migration of bacteria into tissues throughout the body in the brain, heart, joints, muscles, kidneys, intestines, everywhere.
When Lyme bacteria enter the bloodstream from a tick bite, WBCs gobble up the bacteria in an attempt to get rid of them. The bacteria, however, have sophisticated ways of staying alive inside the WBCs. Instead of eradicating the bacteria, the WBCs unintentionally become transport vehicles to distribute bacteria to tissues throughout the body.
On arrival, the bacteria surface and infect other cells. Its not as much a deluge of invasion as it is a random sprinkling. Tissues throughout the body become peppered with cells that have been infected with bacteria.
The Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, are intracellular, which means they infect and live inside cells. The cells provide nutrients to make new bacteria as well as protection from the immune system. Once the bacteria have used up the resources a cell has to offer, they surface and infect other cells.
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