Getting Diagnosed With Lyme Disease In Canada Harder Than You Might Think
Rachel was officially diagnosed in July, 2017, through a US testing centre after numerous tests in Canada failed to detect her Lyme infection.
From official diagnosis, her full recovery took approximately 18 months.
She had an MRI, the Ontario Lyme test, nerve sensitivity and damage tests, all of which came out negative, but her symptoms continued to worsen so she pursued further testing.
Rachel began to worry that she might have vertigo or early onset Alzheimers based on her short term memory loss, symptoms of dizziness and disorientation.
Before learning of Lyme, many patients are confused by the seemingly sporadic and eclectic symptoms they experience. They are tested for lupus, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis before most Canadian doctors even consider Lyme disease as an option.
In extreme though not uncommon cases, patients are referred to psychologists and psychiatrists because doctors believe their symptoms are completely psychosomatic.
Natural Treatments For Lyme Disease
There are a number of Lyme treatments recommended by naturopathic practitioners. These include:
Magnesium Often, Lyme disease results in a magnesium deficiency. Taking additional magnesium supplements can help the body to create energy, as well as having a calming effect and help patients to sleep better. We detail the relationship between Lyme disease and magnesium below.
Dietary changes to incorporate anti-inflammatory, high antioxidant, and probiotic rich foods, and to exclude as much as possible gluten, dairy, and sugar, which are inflammatory.
Supplements for immunity and cellular function, including D and B vitamins , omega-3, turmeric and probiotics.
Essential oils clove, oregano, chamomile, vetiver
Steam rooms or saunas for detoxing
Rachels natural regimen for Lyme recovery included the following:
- Natural Calm magnesium daily to improve sleep and reduce panic attacks
- Curcumin to minimize Herxheimer reactions and reduce potential brain damage
- Omega 3,6 and 9 for cellular repair and an energy boost
- Valerian and melatonin to help get her sleep schedule back on track
- Kava kava to minimize anxiety and stress
- Nystatin Compounded to prevent yeast overgrowth, which can be caused by antibiotics
Rachel also made a number of lifestyle changes to cope with Lyme symptoms and the side-effects of treatment.
Sleep was essential to Rachels recovery. Her body was working hard to fight off the infection, and she experienced the typical fatigue.
Recover From Chronic Lyme Disease At Lifeworks
Dr. Minkoff and the experienced team at LifeWorks Wellness Center have helped hundreds of Lyme Disease patients recover from Lyme and can help you too.
Watch the patient videos below and read some of the Lyme disease testimonials further down the page. Youll see a familiar pattern of patients who were suffering due to lack of proper Lyme diagnosis and/or treatment and then came here and their lives were transformed
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Stage : Early Localized Lyme Disease
Stage 1 or early localized Lyme disease occurs 128 days following a tick bite.
Some people with stage one Lyme disease do not experience any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include the following:
- a skin rash that may or may not resemble a bulls-eye
- flu-like illness, including chills and a fever
- swollen lymph nodes
Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
If stage 1 Lyme disease remains undiagnosed and untreated, it can progress to stage 2, or early disseminated, Lyme disease. This stage occurs 312 weeks after the initial tick bite.
The term disseminated indicates that the bacteria have spread throughout the body. At this stage, the infection may affect the following tissues:
- the skin
- nervous system
A person who has progressed to stage 2 Lyme disease may develop new symptoms alongside those from stage 1. These new symptoms may include:
- new rashes across the body
- conjunctivitis or vision problems
- poor memory and concentration
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A Powerful Lyme Disease Protocol
With over 23 years of treating Lyme Disease, Dr. David Minkoff is considered a world-renowned Lyme Disease expert and is routinely interviewed by the media and asked to speak at international Lyme Disease conferences to discuss the current state of Lyme Disease, his breakthrough treatment protocols, and patient success stories.
Dr. Minkoff has developed a uniquely effective, multi-protocol treatment program over the last two decades for resolving difficult chronic Lyme Disease infections, while also simultaneously strengthening and rebuilding the patients health and immunity.
Why Is Lyme Disease Spreading In Canada
Canadians are more susceptible to Lyme disease infection because of the spread of blacklegged ticks across the country. Many of these ticks are spread by birds.
With the change in climate bringing migratory birds to parts of Canada they hadnt previously been, and the birds bringing ticks with them, areas of Canada that had never before been at risk of tick bites and Lyme disease are beginning to find themselves with some of the highest numbers of cases. Because of the birds that ticks latch on to, ticks are beginning to show up even outside previously recognized tick areas.
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How Is It Treated
Facial palsy is treated with oral antibiotics and Lyme meningitis/radiculoneuritis can either be treated with oral or intravenous antibiotics, depending on severity . Most people with Lyme disease respond well to antibiotics and fully recover. Varying degrees of permanent nervous system damage may develop in people who do not receive treatment in the early stages of illness and who develop late-stage Lyme disease.
Transmission Of Bb Via Ixodes Spp Vectors
The black-legged ticks, Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus on the West Coast, are the primary vectors of Bb in the USA. In endemic areas, the proportion of Ixodes spp. ticks infected with Bb can be remarkably high. One recent survey of the pathogen burden of 197 Ixodes scapularis ticks collected from New York and Connecticut where LD is endemic, revealed 111 ticks were infected with Bb and 37 were co-infected with more than one human pathogen . The high pathogen burden is consistent with previous tick surveys in the same region . In contrast, the percent of infected ticks in other regions of the USA is much lower. In recently published surveys across California, for example, fewer than 5% of Ixodes spp. ticks were infected . Ixodes ticks sometimes carry multiple strains of Bb that may impact the course of disease in people that are co-infected. One tick survey showed that 39% of Ixodes ticks in North America are infected with multiple genotypes of Bb .
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Lyme Disease: Stage 1
A circular rash, also called bullâs-eye rash, develops around the site of the tick bite. The technical name for the rash is erythema migrans. Unlike the harmless but itchy redness of the site of the bite, this rash is not painful or itchy. The rash may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms like fever or aching limbs.
Treatment For Erythema Migrans
People treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Early diagnosis and proper antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease can help prevent late Lyme disease.
Treatment regimens listed in the following table are for the erythema migrans rash, the most common manifestation of early Lyme disease. These regimens may need to be adjusted depending on a persons age, medical history, underlying health conditions, pregnancy status, or allergies. Consult an infectious disease specialist regarding individual patient treatment decisions.
|100 mg, twice per day orally||N/A|
|500 mg, three times per day orally||N/A|
|500 mg, twice per day orally||N/A|
|4.4 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 2 doses||100 mg per dose|
|50 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 3 doses||500 mg per dose|
|30 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 2 doses||500 mg per dose|
*When different durations of antibiotics are shown to be effective for the treatment of Lyme disease, the shorter duration is preferred to minimize unnecessary antibiotics that might result in adverse effects, including infectious diarrhea and antimicrobial resistance.
NOTE: For people intolerant of amoxicillin, doxycycline, and cefuroxime, the macrolide azithromycin may be used, although it is less effective. People treated with azithromycin should be closely monitored to ensure that symptoms resolve.
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What Differentiates The Conventional And Functional Medicine Approaches To Lyme Disease
The medical treatment of Lyme disease has become the subject of much controversy. The mainstream medical community argues that Lyme disease is rare and easily treated with a single round of antibiotics. When patients experience symptoms beyond this treatment, they are often dismissed and told that it is not possible that the symptoms could be caused by an ongoing infection, are post-Lyme syndrome, or are all in their head.
While conventional, or allopathic, medicine is excellent at handling acute medical emergencies and surgery, it falls short in addressing complex, chronic conditions such as Lyme disease. If we compare the field of medicine to a tree, the conventional medical disciplines such as cardiology, neurology, and gastroenterology are akin to the outer leaves and branches of the tree. These disciplines work to control or suppress the outward manifestations of the disease, but often fail to address the root cause of the problem. On the other hand, functional medicine focuses first on the roots and trunk of the tree. A functional medicine doctor addresses the underlying factors that contribute to chronic disease and looks at the body as an interconnected system, rather than a disparate collection of body parts.
What Are The Treatments For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. The earlier you are treated, the better it gives you the best chance of fully recovering quickly.
After treatment, some patients may still have pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking that lasts more than 6 months. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome . Researchers don’t know why some people have PTLDS. There is no proven treatment for PTLDS long-term antibiotics have not been shown to help. However, there are ways to help with the symptoms of PTLDS. If you have been treated for Lyme disease and still feel unwell, contact your health care provider about how to manage your symptoms. Most people do get better with time. But it can take several months before you feel all better.
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What Causes Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria. In the United States, this is usually a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. It spreads to humans through the bite of an infected tick. The ticks that spread it are blacklegged ticks . They are usually found in the:
- Upper Midwest
- Pacific coast, especially northern California
These ticks can attach to any part your body. But they are often found in hard-to-see areas such as your groin, armpits, and scalp. Usually the tick must be attached to you for 36 to 48 hours or more to spread the bacterium to you.
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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Why Canadian Healthcare Isnt Ready For Lyme Disease
Rachels experience with the Canadian healthcare system mirrors that of Lyme patients from all over Canada.
The often lengthy process of diagnosis leads to continual symptoms, and the Canadian regulations around antibiotic prescription make it even more difficult for them to get sufficient prescriptions.
Many Canadian doctors wont prescribe more than 4-6 weeks of antibiotics for fear of violating certain regulations and potentially losing their licences, even though that amount wouldnt be effective in fully killing off bacteria. Symptoms can return after short treatment, if infection took place several months ago .
The Canadian guidelines restrict doctors from prescribing more than four weeks of antibiotics, which presents an obstacle for Lyme patients seeking slightly more long term therapy.
Since the same guidelines do not apply in the United States, many Canadian patients look to American doctors for prescriptions that they cant get in Canada. This process, however, becomes expensive over time.
There are substantial number of patients who either dont get a diagnosis or dont get appropriate treatment. -Dr. Ralph Hawkins, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Calgary.
But there is hope!
While the Canadian healthcare system hasnt quite adjusted to the new Lyme hazard, the government has recently been taking steps to inform the provinces of the risk and what they can do to prevent Lyme disease in their communities.
Lyme Disease Frequently Asked Questions
If you have not done so already, remove the tick with fine-tipped tweezers.
The chances that you might get Lyme disease from a single tick bite depend on the type of tick, where you acquired it, and how long it was attached to you. Many types of ticks bite people in the U.S., but only blacklegged ticks transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Furthermore, only blacklegged ticks in the highly endemic areas of the northeastern and north central U.S. are commonly infected. Finally, blacklegged ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease. This is why its so important to remove them promptly and to check your body daily for ticks if you live in an endemic area.
If you develop illness within a few weeks of a tick bite, see your health care provider right away. Common symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash, fever, body aches, facial paralysis, and arthritis. Ticks can also transmit other diseases, so its important to be alert for any illness that follows a tick bite.
Moody KD, Barthold SW, 1991. Relative infectivity of Borrelia burgdorferi in Lewis rats by various routes of inoculation.external iconAm J Trop Med Hyg 44: 135-9.
There are no reports of Lyme disease being spread to infants through breast milk. If you are diagnosed with Lyme disease and are also breastfeeding, make sure that your doctor knows this so that he or she can prescribe an antibiotic thats safe for use when breastfeeding.
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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.
I Took A Different Approach To Conventional Lyme Disease Treatments
I based my recovery plan on a simplified version of Dr Klinghardts protocol, combined with info from other Lyme Literate MDs & Healers, Naturopaths & my own extensive research.
I didnt take any pharmaceutical antibiotics, but used powerful natural antimicrobials instead. I reduced the toxic load, removed pathogens, viruses and bacteria and kicked my immune system back into action so my body could deal with the Lyme itself.
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Antibiotics: The First Line Of Lyme Disease Treatment
Right after her diagnosis, Rachel began oral antibiotic treatment using Doxycycline, and taking probiotics to maintain balance of her intestinal bacteria. Antibiotics are the only proven way to kill off the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
Previously, it was common practice for doctors to prescribe just one round of antibiotics, regardless of the stage of the disease, however it is now believed that such a prescription would not be effective in treating more chronic cases. This is especially true considering cases which have been left untreated for longer periods of time and need long term treatment plans.
Doxycycline, Rachels prescribed antibiotic, had certain unpleasant side effects including extreme nausea. The nausea made her feel as though her symptoms were worsening, when in fact, the opposite was the case.
The bacteria release toxins as they die, resulting in what are called Herxheimer reactions. Lyme patients experience Herxheimer reactions as seemingly worsening symptoms or pain as the bacteria are being killed.
Since the bacteria dont die at fixed intervals, the more intense symptoms are very sporadic.
Rachel mitigated the nausea by taking antibiotics on a full stomach and with anti-nausea medications.
Ultimately, it was doxycycline that eliminated the infection, but throughout the recovery process, it was the treatment with the most severe side effects. Rachel spent 8 months on Doxycycline and subsequently took other antibiotics.
Rachels Lyme Disease Story
Rachel Aide has spent close to 3 years living with Lyme disease, learning about it, and recently, recovering from it.
Like many Lyme patients, Rachel didnt experience the bullseye rash, making it hard to pinpoint where and when exactly her infection took place, however, she suspects she was infected in Saint Andrews by-the-Sea, NB, in 2016, while taking a walk in tall grasses.
Most likely, Rachel was bitten while the tick was in its nymph stage, when the tick is very small and harder to see. When small ticks go unnoticed, they often have enough time to transmit the Lyme disease bacterium before being noticed and removed.
Rachel like so many others didnt suspect Lyme disease because she didnt remember having a rash or being bitten.
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