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
Signs Of Lyme Disease That Appear On Your Skin
Signs of Lyme disease
If you see a rash or another sign of Lyme disease on your skin, see your primary doctor right away. When caught early and treated, Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics and most people recover fully.
Lyme disease is caused by a bite from a black-legged tick. If you are bitten by this tick and develop Lyme disease, you may see a bulls-eye rash. Its a common sign of Lyme disease, but its not the only sign.
Lyme disease occurs in stages. Heres what you may see on your skin during each stage.
The Right Testing And Care = The Road To Recovery
So we talked about some of the complexities around detecting Lyme and its co-infections and also why some of the current testing is flawed. We also talked about a solution to testing that could detect Lyme in chronic cases. All of this comes down to finding a Calgary Lyme disease doctor who understands Lymes complexities and can provide you with private testing that is based on more current research.
When you see a provider, you want to test for multiple infections including:
With proper lab testing, we can detect 15 confirmed infections that cause disease. We dont currently know all of the infections but the main thing to remember is to get lyme disease testing beyond just Borrelia burgdorferi.
TIP: If you have been tested for Lyme disease before and it came back negative but you have a sneaky suspicion that the test wasnt accurate , you may want to get re-tested.
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Moving Forward With Chronic Illness
Today Tait works as a writer and speaker. Her first book publishing in August, The View from Rock Bottom: Discovering Gods Embrace in our Pain, chronicles her journey with her health and how it impacted her faith. Writing gives her the freedom to work from home, but she’s well aware that for many years the financial burden has been on her husband, a software developer.
They recently took a rare vacation to Mexico. It was the first time theyd been on a plane together since their honeymoon more than a decade ago.
Tait has days when she feels strong enough to attend a speaking engagement at a church or play with her kids at the park. But she also has days when she struggles to move her body and relies on her cane.
For Tait, the hardest part is knowing that she would, in all likelihood, be completely healthy today had she just been diagnosed sooner. And the scariest part is knowing that it was all out of her hands.
I was asking for the right tests. I was saying the right things. I was showing up constantly and saying, This isnt working, Im not well. But eventually you start to doubt yourself, when you hear enough times that maybe its all in your head.
Now that she has answers, she can at least begin to move forward.
How Is Lyme Disease Transmitted
Ticks usually live in woods or tall grasslands in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia. Ticks can become infected with Borrelia burgdorferi by feeding on infected wild animals, and then can spread the bacteria when they feed on blood from the host. Ticks cannot fly – they hang onto small bushes or tall grasses and are usually found close to the ground. They wait for an animal or person to pass near them and when the animal or person makes contact, the ticks attach themselves to the skin to feed.
In North America, Lyme disease is transmitted mainly by two species of ticks:
- Blacklegged tick , Ixodes scapularis.
- Western blacklegged tick, Ixodes pacificus.
The Public Health Agency of Canada states that there no evidence that Lyme disease can spread from person-to-person. Pets, especially dogs, can get Lyme disease, but there is no evidence that pets can spread the infection directly to humans. They may, however, carry infected ticks into the home or yard which may increase the chance of transmission.
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What Is Lyme Disease
This bacterial infection is spread through the bite of a young deer tick or black-legged tick. These eight-legged creatures, about the size of a poppy seed, can be found in wooded and grassy areas throughout the United States, especially in New England and the Rocky Mountains.
Because these ticks are so small, most people donât realize when theyâre bitten. But the longer a tick stays attached to you, the more likely it is to transmit Borrelia burgdorferi , if the tick is a carrier.
Who Is At Risk For Lyme Disease
Anyone can get a tick bite. But people who spend lots of time outdoors in wooded, grassy areas are at a higher risk. This includes campers, hikers, and people who work in gardens and parks.
Most tick bites happen in the summer months when ticks are most active and people spend more time outdoors. But you can get bitten in the warmer months of early fall, or even late winter if temperatures are unusually high. And if there is a mild winter, ticks may come out earlier than usual.
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Who Is At Risk
Many occupations may be at risk, including forestry, farming, veterinarians, construction, landscaping, ground keepers, park or wildlife management, and anyone who either works outside or has contact with animals that may carry ticks
Similarly, any person who spends a lot time outdoors , especially in grassy or wooded areas may also be at risk.
Other Canine Diseases Carried By Ticks
Anaplasmosis can involve symptoms similar to those for Lyme disease. Babesiosis can present with a wide range of symptoms, from sudden and severe shock, high fever, and dark urine to a slowly progressing infection with more subtle clinical signs. Diagnosis of both diseases includes blood tests similar to those used to check for Lyme disease.
Sometimes, dogs and people can become sick with co-infection of multiple tick-borne diseases, where more than one type of disease-causing bacteria is transmitted through a tick bite. This situation can make diagnosis and treatment even more challenging and difficult.
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Can Lyme Disease Be Treated
In most cases, yes. Antibiotics can effectively treat Lyme disease, especially when treatment begins early. Cases that reach the later stages of the disease, however, can be difficult to treat and some symptoms can persist.
PHAC reports that removing the tick within 24-36 hours usually prevents infection.
How Do I Know If I Am Getting Tested Correctly For Lyme Disease
So we have already established that it is difficult to detect the presence of Lyme disease. But, thankfully, techniques and private testing have been developed to circumvent these complexities .
One technique is PCR which looks at Lyme antigens and the organisms DNA.
While PCR can be effective for detecting Lyme disease, knowing how to give this test is also important. In order to get a good reading, your lymph system needs to be moving. To increase lymphatic movement, here at Neurvana Health, we may use infrared sauna, exercise, or simply therapeutic ultrasound on various areas of the body where we think the infection may be present. To detect its presence, we can review your symptoms and where you experience pain. So we may look at memory problems and use ultrasound on the temporal, upper cervical regions and down the spinal cord. We may also use it on the joints, gallbladder or spleen.
What does the ultrasound do? Well, the infections have what we call Velcro proteins that allow them to attach to connective tissue. So the ultrasound breaks these proteins and the organisms get dispersed into the circulation where we can detect them. We can detect their DNA in blood or urine.
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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.
How Stephanie Got Answers
About four years ago, Tait started to suspect she had Lyme disease. A family friend had Lyme, and Tait recognized some of her own symptoms appearing in her friend. She asked her doctor for an ELISA, an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, or a blood test thats typically the first way doctors test patients who may have Lyme disease. When she learned her insurance wouldnt cover the cost, she paid for the test out of pocket. It came back negative.
Tait, however, wasnt convinced. She asked for another test, but she said the doctor refused. So she turned to a private lab for a second test, this one a Western Blot, which doctors typically turn to next, to verify a positive ELISA result. That test was positive for the Lyme antibodies.
I sobbed, because there it was in my hands that I wasnt just jumping to conclusions, Tait said. I walked back into my doctors office and said, Here it is. They said, Well, we didnt do this test, so how do we know? I said, Youve got to be kidding me. I have a lab test!
Tait started getting treatment at a private clinic in Idaho that specializes in treating Lyme disease, about a six-hour drive from where she lives.
Lyme disease is typically treated with antibiotics, and when treated early, people with Lyme usually recover completely. Taits treatment plan included antibiotics, immunotherapy, various supplements as well as dietary changes. But because she had been sick for so long, some of her health problems were irreversible.
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How Do You Know If You Have Lyme Disease
Laboratory testing can help, but the problem is that the current tests are not very accurate and often miss people who have Lyme Disease.
There have been over 100 hundred symptoms associated with Lyme, but there are some symptoms that are consistent among most people who have the disease.
The symptoms of people with acute Lyme disease can look a little bit different from those who have had the disease for a long time.
Why Is Lyme Disease So Difficult To Diagnose
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted through the bite of infected deer ticks. One common symptom of Lyme is a red rash on the skin , that appears at the site of a tick bite usually within a week, but up to a month later. Some people may not experience a rash, or may mistake it for a spider bite. Other symptoms like fever, chills, headache, fatigue, joint aches and swollen lymph nodes may occur in the absence of a rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If Lyme is not diagnosed immediately, the bacteria start to spread to other parts of the body the joints, the nervous system and the heart. Eventually, arthritis sets in, along with extreme fatigue and general aches and pains. These can also be symptoms of other conditions, which is part of the reason why Lyme is difficult to diagnose. Aside from the initial rash, there are no symptoms that are specifically indicative of Lyme disease.
Theres also no definitive way to test for Lyme disease. There is no direct blood test for the bacteria that causes Lyme. Doctors have to rely on antibody tests, which merely measure the immune systems response to the bacteria. Further complicating matters, studies have shown that those tests arent always accurate and can have poor sensitivity and false results in some cases.
Until a foolproof test exists, diagnosing Lyme disease, especially late-stage Lyme, is an imperfect science.
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What Treatment Does Ilads Recommend For Lyme Disease
Many patients with early Lyme have been treated with short courses of antibiotics and recovered. However, both in practice and in the scientific literature, it has been observed that a significant number of patients do not return to their pre-lyme health status.
The ILADS guidelines working group reviewed the available research and developed recommendations, based upon the best-available evidence, clinical expertise, and patient-centered values.
ILADS recommends a 4-6 week course of antibiotics as initial therapy for patients with early Lyme disease presenting with EM. Further treatment is guided by the clinical course and response to treatment. Although the guidelines do not discuss the treatment of non-EM early Lyme disease or disseminated disease, these topics are reviewed in the Fundamentals Course. For non-EM early disease, initial treatment is similar to that for EM. Patients with disseminated disease may need longer courses of antibiotics and antibiotic combinations.
ILADS emphasizes patient-centered, person specific care, and the importance of careful assessment and re-assessment of the full clinical picture to guide treatment decisions, initially and if symptoms persist or return.
Are Some Locations More At Risk Than Others
Yes and no. There are areas in which the bacteria is endemic meaning the disease is established and present more or less continually in that community.
In Canada, blacklegged tick populations have been confirmed or are growing in the following areas:
- Southern British Columbia.
- Southern New Brunswick and Grand Manan Island.
- South shore and northern mainland Nova Scotia.
However, it is important to note that ticks can be spread by birds, in particular songbirds that feed off the forest floor. Because these birds are migratory, there is the potential for new populations of the bacteria to spread across the country. This fact means that you do not have to be in an endemic or high-risk area to be at risk of contacting ticks and the disease.
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What Can A Workplace Or Home Do To Reduce The Presence Of Ticks
Keep the lawn and yard well maintained to prevent ticks from living near the home or workplace.
- Keep the grass mowed. Trim trees and shrubs.
- Remove leaf litter, brush, and weeds at the edge of the lawn, and around stonewalls and woodpiles.
- Clean up and seal stonewalls and small openings around the home to help discourage rodents.
- Keep stacked firewood piles and bird feeders away from buildings.
- Keep any pets, particularly dogs, out of the woods and talk to your veterinarian about tick repellents for your pets.
- Move children’s swing sets and sandboxes away from the woodland’s edge and use a woodchip or mulch foundation.
- Consider using hard landscape items such as woodchips, mulch, stones, gravel, tile, or metals.
- Create a border or barrier between the lawn, woods, or stonewalls to discourage deer and rodent activity.
- Widen woodland trails.
Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by ticks. When you are outdoors, follow these guidelines:
- Avoid areas that are wooded, brushy, or have tall grass.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Use an insect repellent with at least 20% DEET. It can be put on clothing or sparingly on the skin. Dont apply it to the face or hands of children.
- Treat clothing, tents, or other gear with repellents containing 0.5% permethrin.
- Wear light-colored clothing. This makes it easier to see and remove ticks from your clothes.
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Tuck your pant legs into your socks or boots for added protection.
After you get home, check everything and everyone for ticks.
- Bathe or shower as soon as you can to wash off any ticks that have not attached to you.
- Check your entire body for ticks. Use a mirror for places you cant see. Check your children and your pets. Common tick locations include the back of the knees, groin area, underarms, ears, scalp, and the back of the neck.
- Check any gear you used, including coats, backpacks, or tents.
Tumble dry clothes or blankets on high heat in the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes. This should kill any ticks. If clothes are dirty, wash them in hot water and dry on high heat for 60 minutes.
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Is There A Vaccine For Lyme Disease
No vaccine against Lyme disease is currently available for people. Promising new vaccines are under development, among them some that target multiple tick-borne pathogens, and some that target tick saliva. . Vaccination against Lyme and other tick-borne diseases most likely will not remove the need for personal protective measures to prevent tick bites. Even the best vaccines are unable to provide perfect protection from infections, and new pathogens transmitted by ticks continue to be identified.