Gastrointestinal Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
The spirochete that causes Lyme disease Borrelia burgdorferi and the associated tickborne infections such as Bartonella and Babesia can directly affect any organ system in the body, including the gastrointestinal tract. About 80% of the immune system is located around the digestive tract, so digestive health influences the immune response. Gastrointestinal symptoms of Lyme disease range from food intolerances to constipation.
Rarely does acute Lyme disease cause gastrointestinal symptoms, but occasionally nausea, vomiting, heartburn, and abdominal pain can occur. More commonly, digestive symptoms such as constipation, gas/bloating, and abdominal discomfort occur in chronic or late-stage Lyme disease. Lyme bacteria can directly infect the gastrointestinal tract causing inflammation that creates digestive symptoms. In turn, digestive issues can cause immune dysregulation increasing susceptibility to chronic infections. Whether digestive problems are a result of Lyme disease or increase the susceptibility to chronic infections, it is essential to address the underlying issues to restore health more quickly and effectively.
Chronic Lyme Disease Symptom Severity
In LDos chronic Lyme disease survey, over 75% of patients reported at least one symptom as severe or very severe and 63% reported two or more such symptoms. Find out more about LDo peer-reviewed published surveys. The chart below shows the severity of ten common chronic Lyme symptoms.
The survey also found that patients with chronic Lyme disease have high disability and unemployment rates. Over 40% of patients with chronic Lyme disease reported that they currently are unable to work because of Lyme disease and 24% report that they have received disability at some point in their illness.
Kidney Damage Caused By Lyme Disease
More serious complications, although uncommon, include:
Damage to the kidneys
Rarely, heart or nervous system disease 1,2
Lyme disease sometimes leads to glomerulonephritisthe inflammation and accompanying dysfunction of the kidney’s glomeruli .
Eventually, kidney failure may set in as the dog begins to exhibit signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, and abnormal fluid buildups that can appear as swollen limbs.
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Treatments For Lyme Disease In Kids
Your childs doctor can check for Lyme disease with lab tests. If the tests come back positive, the pediatrician will start an antibiotic treatment.
The treatment for Lyme disease is the same for babies, toddlers and children of all ages. It’s safe, and children usually respond really well to it.
Infections with less severe symptoms are usually treated for two weeks with amoxicillin. When Lyme disease causes truly swollen joints, not just pain, it can take four weeks to treat, often using doxycycline.
What Is Lyme Disease Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease can be very mild and potentially missed. The disease may resemble the flu at its onset. Its most distinct symptom is a bull’s-eye-shaped rash. But in at least one-quarter of Lyme disease patients, the telltale rash does not develop, notes the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases .
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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.
Symptoms Of Tickborne Illness
Many tickborne diseases can have similar signs and symptoms. If you get a tick bite and develop the symptoms below within a few weeks, see your healthcare provider.
The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses include:
- Fever/chills. All tickborne diseases can cause fever.
- Aches and pains. Tickborne diseases can cause headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. People with Lyme disease may also have joint pain.
Your healthcare provider should evaluate the following before deciding on a plan for treatment:
- Your symptoms,
- the geographic region where you were bitten, and
- lab tests, depending on the symptoms and the geographic region where you were bitten.
Tick paralysis is thought to be caused by a toxin in the saliva of an attached tick. People with tick paralysis can experience weakness or paralysis that gradually moves up the body. These symptoms can sometimes resemble other neurologic conditions . Patients typically regain movement within 24 hours of removing the tick. Learn more at Tick paralysis: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopediaexternal icon.
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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.
How To Prevent Lyme Disease In Dogs
The best way to prevent Lyme disease in dogs is to prevent ticks from ever using your dog as a meal. The best way to do that is:
- Know whether you live in or visit areas where Lyme disease is prevalent. The Companion Animal Parasite Council has excellent maps that you can use to check your area so you can stay extra vigilant if you fall into one of the zones.
- Always check your dog for ticks after forays into wilderness areas. Ticks are common in tall grasses, and love to hide on dogs under armpits, in ears, in between the shoulder blades, and in other hard-to-reach areas . A flea comb is an excellent tool to use for tick hunting. You can learn more about flea grooming here.
- Use a quick-kill, long-lasting flea-and-tick product on your dog during tick season .
- If you notice any ticks, remove them promptly .
For your dogs flea and tick prevention, use veterinarian-recommended products: A few of my personal favorites that I recommend are Bravecto, Simparica Trio, NexGard, Seresto collars, Frontline and K9 Advantix II. You can learn more about your flea and tick prevention options here.
If you live in a heavy tick area or if your dog swims frequently, you will need to reapply or administer tick prevention more often than the label indicates: Ask your vet for a frequency that will keep these blood suckers off your dog.
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Chronic Lyme: Real Vs Fake
As with other pseudosciences, chronic Lyme intermixes facts with fiction so its difficult to tell the difference.
Real Lyme infections can persist without treatment. Therefore, in Europe and in early scientific literature, both untreated Lyme disease and post-treatment symptoms have been referred to as chronic. As the CDC and NIH emphasize, experts stopped using the phrase chronic Lyme because of confusion over all the ways it was used.
Most diagnoses of Lyme disease are referred to as early because they occur within weeks to months of infection. Late stage Lyme disease is rare, but confusion about it runs rampant. In North America, the typical manifestation of late stage Lyme is Lyme arthritis, described in the graphic below:
In Europe, there is also a skin manifestation of late stage Lyme disease called acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans.
Scientists like Dr. Allen Steere started studying the phenomenon of Lyme arthritis in the 1970s, before it was known to be caused by bacteria. In a 1987 paper, Steere and colleagues studied 55 patients who had untreated Lyme rashes.
Out of the 55 patients with an untreated Lyme rash, 11 had no other manifestations of Lyme disease while 44 developed types of joint pain. As shown in the graph above, a subset of patients who had recurrent attacks of Lyme arthritis tended to have their symptoms improveand even disappearover time.
Dig Deeper Gastrointestinal Complications Of Lyme Disease
Simultaneous Gastrointestinal Infections in Children and Adolescents
Simultaneous infections were detected in the gastrointestinal tract of children and adolescents presenting with gastritis, duodenitis and/or colitis. Eighty-one consecutive patients presented with gastrointestinal complaints including abdominal pain , blood in the stool , gastroesophageal reflux , Celiac disease , Crohns disease , duodenal ulcer, and failure to thrive . Endoscopy confirmed the diagnoses of celiac disease and Crohns disease, and assessed the gastrointestinal mucosa for inflammation. Biopsies were analyzed for Borrelia burgdorferi, Bartonella spp, Mycoplasma fermentans, and Helicobacter pylori. Pathogens were either absent or were detected as single , double , or triple infections associated with gastritis and duodenitis or colitis at the site of the biopsy.
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Bells Palsy of the Gut
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Persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi in GI tract
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GI symptoms and Lyme disease
The presence of B burgdorferi DNA in the gastrointestinal tract was confirmed by PCR in all of the patients with the clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease who had chronic gastrointestinal symptoms and in two control subjects with Crohns disease. Biopsy evidence of chronic gastritis, chronic duodenitis, and chronic colitis was found in patients with Lyme disease who had chronic gastrointestinal symptoms and was associated with the presence of B burgdorferi.
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Its All Across The Country
Likewise, the nonchalance of the past no longer applies to Lymes regional characteristics either.
It used to be kind of a Northeast, Midwest phenomenon, explains Dr. Goldstein, but when you look at the latest maps, its all over the country. Theres really almost no state without Lyme. We see quite a bit of Lyme in California, in Florida, in the states that used to be relatively low in the upper West Coast. So, yeah, its virtually everywhere and I believe very strongly that every dog in this country should be tested annually.
If youre wondering why its footprint is increasing, Dr. Goldstein says to look no further than global warming.
That has to do with the warming climate, he tells CBS News. It has to do with more deer that can transmit ticks from place to place, more mice. Mice are the main reservoir for Lyme and the mice population has exploded over the last few years again, possibly because of mild winters. Global warming is definitely manifesting itself in tick-borne disease in general and we see that in humans as well as in dogs. We see diseases that exist today in areas that we just didnt have five and ten years ago.
Hispanic Americans And Lyme Disease
Outdoor workers in areas that have a greater incidence of tick related diseases are at increased risk for getting Lyme disease. In the United States, Hispanics comprise an estimated 44 percent of grounds maintenance workers and 48 percent of workers in the farming, fishing and forest industries, potentially placing them at higher risk of Lyme disease, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor.
Research published in Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2016 found that the overall incidence of Lyme disease in Hispanic Americans was lower than that found in white Americans, although the authors speculated that lower number may be related to inadequate healthcare access, language barriers, and lack of health insurance rather than fewer cases of the disease.
Investigators found that Hispanic Americans with Lyme disease were more significantly more likely than white Americans with Lyme disease to have signs of disseminated infection and symptom onset during the fall months.
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Which Areas Are More Likely To Have It
The tick that causes Lyme disease has been moving from the Northeast and upper Midwest into the Southern and Western U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Cases in California and Florida are on the rise. After a drop between 2017 and 2018, the numbers jumped a little bit in 2019.
But most Lyme cases in 2019 were in 15 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New
Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Washington, DC, is also a hotspot.
In 2019, Pennsylvania had the most Lyme infections, with 6,763. New York was next, with 2,847 cases.
In the Southern U.S., where itâs hotter, ticks stay under leaves so they dont dry out. This means people donât get Lyme from Southern ticks very often because they dont usually come out to bite.
Even though people only report about 30,000 cases of Lyme infection in the U.S. each year, there are actually around 476,000 a year. The same tick also can spread other diseases, including babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and Powassan virus. Those diseases are also on the rise in the U.S.
Whoâs likeliest to get Lyme disease?
Boys up to age 15 and men between the ages of 40 and 60 are the most likely to get Lyme disease. Thatâs because they tend to play outside and go camping, hunting, and hiking.
Why are there more ticks now than there used to be?
There are several reasons why Lyme is spreading. Some of these are:
Early Detection Is Key
Lyme disease is easiest to treat at the early or acute stage, within the first 30 days of exposure. This is why its so important to take precautions to prevent tick bites, both during and outside of tick season. Protect yourself when near potential tick habitats, always perform tick checks after outdoor activity , and dont delay seeking medical attention if you notice any symptoms that might be related to tick-borne illness. Its important to get tested as soon as possible for the best chances of recovery.
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Dietary Treatment For Digestive System Lyme Problems
The treatment of any gastrointestinal issues related to Lyme disease should start with an anti-inflammatory, gut-friendly diet free of common gut irritants. Foods that irritate and inflame the gut and should be avoided include:
- Gluten: Gluten is a common trigger for gut inflammation and can play a role in chronic bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and IBS, among other gastrointestinal symptoms. I have found that many of my clients with Lyme disease feel their best when avoiding gluten, especially if they have gut issues.
- Conventional dairy products: Dairy products contain two proteins, casein, and whey, that resemble gluten. A body that is sensitive to gluten can thus react to dairy products, triggering gut inflammation. I find that many of my clients with Lyme disease do best avoiding conventional industrially-raised dairy products. However, some do well with goat or sheep milk dairy products.
- Industrial seed oils, including corn, canola, cottonseed, grapeseed, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oils. These oils contain oxidized lipid byproducts that disrupt the gut microbiota and inflame the gut.
- Refined sugars and carbohydrates: Simple sugars and other simple carbohydrates fuel the growth of pro-inflammatory gut bacteria.
A gut-healing Paleo diet for Lyme disease includes the following foods:
How To Prevent Your Dog From Getting Lyme Disease
Pets are more likely to get Lyme disease in certain areas and during specific times of the year. The last weeks of summer often see more cases of Lyme disease in dogs, but dogs are exposed to ticks all year. You should also avoid tick-infested areas with your dogs, especially during the spring when young ticks become most active. Ticks can be found in grassy, sandy, and wooded areas. Keep your dogs away from thick underbrush and stay on the trails. If you do visit a tick-infested area, follow the following steps:
- Work with your veterinarian to ensure your pets are fully protected from tick exposure and consider vaccinating your pet
- Practice proper tick prevention techniques such as checking for ticks on yourself and your dogs once indoors
- Keep your lawn well maintained
- Clear shrubbery next to your home
- Use a reliable tick-preventive product
- Avoid areas where ticks might be found
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What To Do If My Dog Has A Tick
Despite all your best efforts, sometimes a tick will still take hold of your pooch. If your dog has a tick, then you will want to remove it as soon as possible.
To remove, follow these steps: