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.
Lyme Disease Treatment And Prevention Tips
Lyme disease is a complicated infection that is caused by bacteria thats transmitted from a tick or insect bite. The majority of cases of Lyme are due to a bite from a type of deer tick known as the black-legged tick, which can carry and pass on bacteria known as borrelia burgdorferi.
According to the Michigan Lyme Disease Association, more recently its also been found that other insects can also spread Lyme disease or cause similar infections including other types of ticks, mosquitoes, and possibly spiders or fleas.
Overall, up to 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year, according to new research from the Centers of Disease Control , and many seek Lyme disease treatment. Lyme disease cases are largely concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest, with 14 states accounting for over 96 percent of cases reported to CDC.
Lyme disease symptoms can start with flulike symptoms, headaches, muscle and joint pain. Over time, the symptoms can continue to worsen and turn into a long-lived inflammatory response that is similar to an autoimmune illness.
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
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My Lyme Came Back After Antibiotics Heres How I Treated It Naturally
When I was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012after two and a half years of increasingly debilitating symptoms that perplexed doctorsI finally felt like I had the information I needed to begin my healing journey and start living my life again. What I didnt know, however, was how damn long of a road it would be to recovery, or that Id relapse, or that Lyme is one of the most complex and variable diseases out there.
The good news: Im speaking to you from a place where I feel pretty damn good the majority of the timenot perfect, but good. So if youre currently dealing with Lyme disease , I want my story to serve as motivation to stay the course and continue exploring treatments and lifestyle changes until you find a combination that works.
Here, I delve into my experience with antibiotics as well as more natural treatment protocolsand what finally brought me lasting relief. But first, a little background on where things all started.
My Long Road To A Lyme Diagnosis
I could write a freakin book about my pre-diagnosis Lyme experience. Not to sound dramatic, but it was basically a nightmare playing out in slow motion. For your own sanity, Ill give you the condensed version.
Personally, I dont remember a tick bite, and like many Lyme sufferers, I never got the bulls-eye rash or flu-like symptoms so often touted as classic signs of Lyme disease. Instead, my whole ordeal began with a sharp, stinging sensation in my left ankle after a day of walking in New York City, where Id just begun my first big girl job. It hurt, but I didnt think much of it, and about a week later I was told I had tendinitis that would resolve relatively quickly. But then my other ankle started to hurt, and after a few months, the pain extended to the bottoms of my feet, my knees, and even my arms. Sometimes it would feel like electric currents were running through my toes when I stood up. After a while, I began to question my tendinitis diagnosis, but after about five second opinions and countless tests , doctors had no real explanation for what was going on. In the words of one of my least favorite doctors, Theres nothing else I can do for you.
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What Is Post Treatment Lyme Disease
Post Treatment Lyme Disease represents a research subset of patients who remain significantly ill 6 months or more following standard antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease. PTLD is characterized by a constellation of symptoms that includes severe fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbance, depression, and cognitive problems such as difficulty with short-term memory, speed of thinking, or multi-tasking. In the absence of a direct diagnostic biomarker blood test, PTLD has been difficult to define by physicians, and its existence has been controversial. However, our clinical research shows that meticulous patient evaluation when used alongside appropriate diagnostic testing can reliably identify patients with a history of previously treated Lyme disease who display the typical symptom patterns of PTLD.
How Do You Know If Your Lyme Disease Is Treated And Finished
Patients ask me this question all the time. We diagnose the disease, we treat with antibiotics, or herbs, or homeopathics. We feel better. We stop the treatment. And either we continue to feel better, or we relapse and have to start all over again.
Is there no way to test whether the spirochete is gone?
The Lyme disease.org website has an excellent article ondiagnosis of Lyme disease.
The National Geographic website has a good description of the deer tick, and thehistory of Lyme disease.
Standard Lyme testing includes the following:
- ELISA or IFA test
- If that test is positive, then a Western Blot test is run
- If 5 out of the 10 possible Lyme bands are positive, you are diagnosed with Lyme disease
- If fewer than 5 of the 10 possible bands are positive, you are diagnosed as negative.
Not all the bands which appear on a Western blot are specific to Lyme disease even though one ofthose non-specific bands is required by the CDC for diagnosis.
Two of the bands which are specific to Lyme disease are not on the CDC list of bands required to be positive.
How much sense does that make?
For more detailed information about the IFA and Western blot testing, check out theIGeneX website.
There is another test that can give us an idea whether the Lyme disease is actually gone out of our systems. This is an inflammatory marker, so it tells us whether there is continued inflammation or whether that inflammation is no longer present.
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What To Expect At The Vets Office
If your pet has been diagnosed with uncomplicated Lyme disease, this is what you can expect to happen at your veterinarians office.
- Depending on the type of test used to screen for Lyme disease, a confirmatory test may be necessary.
- Urine protein screening — In general, only dogs who have symptoms of Lyme disease or protein in their urine should be treated with antibiotics.
- Dogs with protein in their urine should have regularly scheduled rechecks to monitor their condition.
Hunting For Alternative Drug
Frustrated by the lack of treatment options for Lyme disease patients with lingering symptoms, Rajadas and his team began hunting for a better alternative in 2011. In 2016, they published a study in Drug Design, Development and Therapy that listed 20 chemical compounds, from about 4,000, that were most effective at killing the infection in mice. All 20 had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for various uses. One, for instance, is used to treat alcohol abuse disorder.
In this most recent study, azlocillin, one of the top-20 contenders, was shown to eclipse a total of 7,450 compounds because it is more effective in killing B. burgdorferi and causes fewer side effects. Lyme disease affects more than 300,000 people annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can affect various organs, including the brain, skin, heart, joints and nervous system, and cause heart problems and arthritis if untreated. Symptoms include fever, headaches, chills, and muscle and joint pain.
Traditional antibiotics, such as doxycycline, are effective as an early course of treatment for the infection in the majority of patients, but it remains unclear why these drugs fail to treat 10% to 20% of patients, Rajadas said.
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What Is The Treatment
Most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated with 2 to 4 weeks of antibiotics. Depending on the symptoms and when you were diagnosed, you may require a longer course or repeat treatment with antibiotics.
Some people experience symptoms that continue more than 6 months after treatment. Research continues into the causes of these persistent symptoms and possible treatment methods.
Giving Your Dog Antibiotics
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How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Lyme Disease
The key to prevention is keeping your dog from being exposed to ticks. Ticks are found in grassy, wooded, and sandy areas. They find their way onto an animal by climbing to the top of a leaf, blade of grass, or short trees, especially cedar trees. Here they wait until their sensors detect an approaching animal on which to crawl or drop. Keeping animals from thick underbrush reduces their exposure to ticks. Dogs should be kept on trails when walked near wooded or tall grass areas. Vaccination against Lyme disease is recommended for pets that live in endemic areas or that travel to areas where Lyme disease is prevalent.
“Vaccination against Lyme disease is recommended for pets that live in endemic areas or that travel to areas where Lyme disease is prevalent.”
How To Prevent Lyme Disease
Until the mode of transmission is fully understood, you cant settle on concrete steps to prevent Lyme disease. What if you got it from your mama before birth? From your spouse? There are a lot of unknowns.
Since you know about ticks, take steps to prevent tick bites. Wear hats in the woods to keep them out of your hair where you cant see them. Do a proper tick check when you come back in from the great outdoors:
- Keep a comb in the car and do thorough tick checks on yourself, the kids, and the pets before you head home.
- Thoroughly check any gear you took with you.
- Look for ticks on clothing.
- Keep the dogs hair short in the summer so you can easily check her for hitchhikers.
- If your zoning allows, get some guinea hens. They love to eat ticks and theyll provide eggs if you keep them happy enough.
Another big one is to keep your immune system strong. That way, if youre exposed, your own body can keep ahead of it. To strengthen your immunity:
- Get toxins out of your world. Its not realistic to remove them all, but theres a good chance you can make a few easy changes to greatly reduce your toxic load.
- Eat foods that feed you on a cellular level. The green-zone foods on the Bulletproof Diet Roadmap are low-toxin, nutrient rich and taste amazing.
- Keep your gut bacteria in check. Heres how.
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Treatment Round #: A More Holistic Approach To Managing My Lyme Symptoms
When I began searching for a more holistic approach to Lyme treatment, I quickly became overwhelmed by the sheer number of herbal protocols, supplement regimens, and other therapies that people swore by. And while many people had clearly had success with a DIY supplement approach, I knew I needed a doctor to guide me through the process. So I found a local, highly recommended holistic M.D. with extensive experience treating patients with Lyme and other difficult-to-treat chronic diseases. Upon my first appointment, she was kind, knowledgeable, and reassured me that wed keep trying different options until something workedbecause no single natural Lyme protocol works for everyone .
To start, she put me on a supplement protocol to help cover all my bases and give my body and immune system the basic tools it needed to start working more efficiently. This consisted of a high-quality multivitamin , a probiotic, a multi-mineral, fish oil, curcumin, and magnesium. None of these immediately led to game-changing results, but based on everything I know about the science-backed perks of these nutrients, I was confident they were helping support my body. After about a month, we added an herbal supplement called Cats Claw to stimulate white blood cells and support immune system functioning, along with my docs favorite supplement for combating Lyme, monolaurin.
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.
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How Im Feeling Now
Now, about a year and a half after beginning this holistic road to recovery, I feel pretty damn good. Of course, I still have periods when I notice my aches and pains cropping up, but now I have the knowledge to begin addressing them quickly so they dont spiral out of control.
One of the most valuable things Ive learned from my holistic doctor is that healing from Lyme is an ongoing process, and it cannot happen with one isolated drug, supplement, or therapy. It requires tuning in to your body and adopting a variety of health-promoting strategies that, together, strengthen and protect the immune system so it can keep harmful pathogens in check.
But all that said, I actually dont regret my initial antibiotic treatment. Because it was so effective for a period of time, it helped confirm that what I was dealing with was, in fact, Lyme disease. And although this theory isnt science-backed, part of me feels like I needed the big guns to get over the initial hump since my symptoms were so all-consuming. All in all, they were a valuable first step in my personal healing journey, but everyones journey is different.
And no matter how hard things get, know that once-hopeless people like me have gotten better. It takes time, but it can happen, and it may not be the exact same protocol that worked for me. So keep tuning in to your body, prioritizing your needs, and being your own advocate until you find an approach that works for you.