Does Lyme Disease Stay With You Forever
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. Symptoms including headache, fever, and muscle aches are common and usually show up 3 to 30 days after being bitten.
Many people recover quickly from Lyme disease after taking antibiotics that destroy the bacteria. However, even with the bacteria gone, others experience symptoms for months or even years after treatment. This is known as chronic or post-treatment Lyme disease .
This article will try to answer the question, Does Lyme disease stay with you forever? Well look into the causes and symptoms of Lyme disease, and discuss why PTLD is difficult to diagnose and treat.
What Are The Stages Of Lyme Infection
There are three stages:
- Early localized Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and a rash that looks like a bull’s-eye or is round and red and at least 2 inches long
- Early disseminated Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like pain, weakness, or numbness in your arms and legs, changes in your vision, heart palpitations and chest pain, a rash , and a type of facial paralysis known as Bellâs palsy
- Late disseminated Lyme: This can happen weeks, months, or years after the tick bite. Symptoms might include arthritis, severe fatigue and headaches, dizziness, trouble sleeping, and confusion.
About 10% of people treated for Lyme infection donât shake the disease. They may go on to have three core symptoms: joint or muscle pain, fatigue, and short-term memory loss or confusion. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. It can be hard to diagnose because it has the same symptoms as other diseases. Plus, there isn’t a blood test to confirm it.
Experts arenât sure why Lyme symptoms donât always go away. One theory is that your body keeps fighting the infection even after the bacteria are gone, like an autoimmune disorder.
Early Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
The most common feature of localized Lyme disease is a slowly expanding skin lesion or rash known as erythema migrans . This rash usually develops 3 to 30 days after the disease-transmitting tick bite.
Erythema migrans is the earliest sign of the disease in about 70 percent of Lyme disease cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
There are certain characteristics that can help identify erythema migrans:
- It begins as a flat or slightly raised red spot at the site of the tick bite and can expand to become a round rash up to 73 centimeters across.
- It can appear on any area of the body but most frequently shows up on the lower limbs, buttocks, and groin in adults, and on the head and neck in children.
- A clear ring may appear around the center of the rash, giving it a bull’s-eye-like appearance .
- It may be warm to the touch, though rarely painful or itchy.
While the classic Lyme disease rash has a bull’s-eye shape, not all cases of erythema migrans look the same. The patient may develop a red, expanding lesion with a crusting of the skin at the center multiple red lesions red, oval-shaped plaques or a bluish rash, according to the CDC.
In addition to erythema migrans, people with localized Lyme disease may experience flu-like symptoms, including fever and chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pains, a general ill feeling , and swollen lymph glands.
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What damage does Lyme disease cause?
Untreated Lyme disease can cause: Chronic joint inflammation , particularly of the knee. Neurological symptoms, such as facial palsy and neuropathy. Cognitive defects, such as impaired memory.
What are symptoms of late stage Lyme disease?
Symptoms of late stage Lyme disease
Does Lyme disease shorten your life?
Take away message: In the long run, Lyme does not affect your life as much as other health conditions. It is important to live a healthy lifestyle regardless of whether you are struggling with Lyme disease or not.
How does Lyme disease affect the brain?
In some cases, Lyme disease can cause encephalopathy. Its effects include memory loss, confusion, difficulty forming words and thoughts, difficulty focusing, and personality changes. These symptoms can be very subtle when they develop late in the disease.
What does Borrelia burgdorferi look like?
burgdorferi is a helical shaped spirochete bacterium. It has an inner and outer membrane as well as a flexible cell wall. Inside the bacteria’s cell membranes is the protoplasm, which, due to the spiral shape of the bacteria, is long and cylindrical. The cell is normally only 1 m wide but can be 10-25 m long.
How do you test for neurological Lyme disease?
What If I Don’t Feel Better After Treatment
If you’re treated for Lyme disease and don’t feel better after youve finished your treatment, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend a longer course of antibiotics or may be able to prescribe another medication to help with symptoms like joint or muscle pain.
You might also want to seek a second opinion, especially if your Lyme disease diagnosis was not initially confirmed via a two-step blood test. If your body has not responded to antibiotics, its possible that something else besides the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is making you sick. In 2017, for example, the CDC reported on a woman who was given antibiotics and herbal remedies to treat her chronic Lyme disease, when she actually hadand eventually died fromamyotrophic lateral sclerosis .
Even if you do recover completely from a Lyme disease diagnosis, your immune system may continue making antibodies to fight Lyme disease bacteria for months or even years after the infection is gone. Those antibodies wont protect you from getting a second Lyme disease infection, however, so be sure to take steps to protect yourself from ticks in the future.
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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.
Stage : Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Stage 3 or late disseminated Lyme disease is the final stage of the disease. A person may enter this stage if they did not receive treatment for Lyme disease in the early stages, or if their symptoms persisted despite treatment. As such, doctors sometimes refer to this stage as chronic or post-treatment Lyme disease .
Stage 3 Lyme disease can occur after an infected tick bites a person.
A person with stage 3 Lyme disease may experience additional symptoms, including:
- severe joint pain and swelling, known as chronic Lyme arthritis
- heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat, due to Lyme carditis
- inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- mental fogginess
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When Should You See A Doctor If You Think You Have Lyme
The rash is a pretty good indication that you may have been bitten. Take a photo of the rash and see your doctor. At this stage, treatment with antibiotics will probably work.
If you don’t have the rash but have symptoms like fatigue, fever, and headache but no respiratory symptoms like a cough, you may want to talk to your doctor.
How To Recover From Chronic Lyme And Tick Diseases With Dr Todd Lepine
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Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases often go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed. This is partially because Lyme mimics other illnesses such as the flu, manifesting as diverse symptoms including headaches, muscle aches, stomach ulcers, constipation, and joint pain, making diagnosing and treating Lyme very difficult. Left unchecked, Lyme symptoms can worsen, creating a long-running inflammatory response and autoimmune illness. Lyme disease, or borreliosis, is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which can proliferate to every area in your body. The good news is that with some work and effort, you can successfully treat Lyme disease.
In this episode, Dr. Hyman sits down with Dr. Todd LePine to discuss the Functional Medicine approach to identifying and treating chronic Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
This episode is sponsored by AirDoctor. We need clean air not only to live but to create vibrant health and protect ourselves and loved ones from toxin exposure and disease. Learn more about the AirDoctor Professional Air Purifier system at a special price at www.drhyman.com/filter
In this episode, Dr. Hyman and Dr. LePine discuss:
For more information visit drhyman.com/uwc
I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
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Lyme Disease: Resolving The Lyme Wars
- By , Contributor
Its finally getting warm here in New England, and most of us have plans to enjoy the beautiful weather. And thats why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report raising awareness about how to prevent the tickborne infections that typically occur during this time of the year. Lyme disease is probably the most well-known, and the one for which diagnosis and treatment are most controversial.
Duration Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease can last a month or two or as long as months or years, depending on whether or not it is promptly or effectively treated.
When treated with antibiotics, most people recover from Lyme disease within a few weeks. If it isnt treated right way because symptoms werent present or it was misdiagnosed, the infection can affect different parts of the body and last one to four months.
Late persistent Lyme disease may develop without proper treatment. This phase can cause arthritis, fatigue, and numbness. Although it is rare, heart problems such as inflammation around the heart can occur months or years after the tick bite, notes Michigan Medicine.
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Im A Native New Yorker Though I Write This From A Small Historic Home In Boulder Colorado While Staring At A Photo Taken During A Recent Trip With Close Friends To Celebrate My 40th Birthday
At first glance, one could think this photo represents a snapshot of a life like many others on Instagram and Facebooka happy, fit, and carefree woman frolicking in a bikini on the beach. In that moment, I was all of those things, but the truth is, it took all the personal strength I could muster, and a vetted team of doctors, health-care practitioners, friends and family to get me there.
Five years ago, I could barely get out of bed to go to work, let alone get on a plane to celebrate a birthday in my bikini on the beach.
Id lived in New York City most of my life, and had the life many young women dream of. I enjoyed the arts, piano and dance, fashion, fun and all things international, with a circle of friends that could give the support of a small village. A tad Type A, I was always a go-go-go, achievement girl most of my adolescence into adulthood. The funny thing was, I always felt something was missing, that there was something bigger and better on the horizon.
During my mid-20s, I experience bouts of fatigue, finding it more difficult to recover my energy after a night out with friends, a dance class, or a normal day of work. I wasnt exactly leading the healthiest lifestyle then, but I was young, and doing it all seemed easier for others. I was desperately trying to keep up.
Around this time I experienced my first wave of panic one day when I was at work.
I was lucky to be diagnosed with Lyme disease six months after my symptoms began.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and, rarely, Borrelia mayonii. Humans can get Lyme disease if they are bitten by an infected blacklegged tick, according to the CDC.
Usually the deer tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease, notes the Mayo Clinic.
Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, and some ticks carry other diseases.
A persons chances of getting bitten by a tick and getting Lyme disease can depend on where they live, travel or what they do for a living. Common risk factors for contracting Lyme disease include the following:
- Spending a lot of time in wooded or grassy areas, especially in the Northeast and Midwest United States
- Exposed skin, which can make it easier for ticks to attach or bite you
- Removing ticks incorrectly or removing them 36 hours or more after theyve attached to your skin which allows the bacteria from the bite to enter your skin
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Touched By Lyme: Recovery Is A Long Slow Balancing Act
Guest blogger Jennifer Crystal says there is no magic secret to getting over chronic Lyme disease.
After each blog I post, I receive dozens of emails from Lymies asking what I did to get better. People question whether I tried certain treatments, whether Ive considered herbal therapies, whether I can tell them the magic secret to getting over chronic tick-borne disease. Rather than continue to email the same response, I thought it might help to address these questions in a post.
The first and more important thing I must tell you is that there is no magic secret. There is no set protocol for treating tick-borne diseases, because every case is different. Variables such as duration of infection without treatment, spread of infection to different areas of the body and brain, and presence of co-infections make it impossible for doctors to treat any two cases the same way. Lyme manifests itself in myriad ways, and people respond differently to various treatments. Some patients suffer more from joint pain, while others chief complaints are neurological. Its important to find a Lyme-literate physician who can assess which treatments are best for your specific case. My LLMD spent two hours with me on our first visit getting my complete medical history since that appointment, Ive felt confident that he is treating the patient, not just the disease. Thats half the battle in conquering complex cases.
Prognosis Of Lyme Disease
People treated with antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually make a full recovery. Without treatment there can be complications that involve the joints, heart and nervous system, but these symptoms can still go away with treatment.
Although it is rare, some people develop whats called post-Lyme disease syndrome. Those individuals still have symptoms of Lyme Disease that interfere with their life even after theyve been treated, according to MedlinePlus.
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Symptoms Of Post Treatment Lyme Disease
- Include severe fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, & cognitive problems
- Can significantly impact patients health and quality of life
- Can be debilitating and prolonged
Our research indicates the chronic symptom burden related to PTLD is significant. Although often invisible to others, the negative impact on quality of life and daily functioning is substantial for PTLD sufferers.
The chronic symptom burden related to Lyme disease is considerable, as shown on the left side of the graph above, and statistically significantly greater than the aches and pains of daily living experienced by the control group, on the right.
Can Lyme Disease Damage Organs
Eva Sapi. Lyme disease is caused by a spirochetea corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme is called The Great Imitator, because its symptoms mimic many other diseases. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and the heart.
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A Reasonable Approach To Post
If you are being treated for PTLD, there is no magic bullet to treat this problem, but here are some important steps to consider:
- Choose a doctor you trust and who can work closely with you.
- If your doctor agrees to start antibiotics for several months, make sure you talk about the risks and cost, as this can be dangerous and expensive.
- Make sure not to rely solely on antibiotics. The evidence for a benefit from antibiotics is weak, and we rely mostly on physicians clinical experience and interest in the disease to design a personalized therapeutic plan. For some, a more holistic approach may be the way to go.
- If you try supplements, ask about their source and purity, as they are not FDA-regulated.
- Consider looking for services in medical school hospitals or clinics where they may have programs with ongoing research on how to diagnose and treat Lyme.