Study Shows Evidence Of Severe And Lingering Symptoms In Some After Treatment For Lyme Disease
In a study of 61 people treated for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, Johns Hopkins researchers conclude that fatigue…
In a study of 61 people treated for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, Johns Hopkins researchers conclude that fatigue, pain, insomnia and depression do indeed persist over long periods of time for some people, despite largely normal physical exams and clinical laboratory testing.
Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome is a real disorder that causes severe symptoms in the absence of clinically detectable infection, says John N. Aucott, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center.
The findings, published in the December issue of Frontiers in Medicine, could spur further investigation into the cause of persistent symptoms, a source of medical controversy. As Lyme disease rates have steadily climbed in the United States since it was first recognized in the mid-1970s, so have reports of a collection of symptoms that patients commonly refer to as chronic Lyme disease. Experts in the field have questioned the validity of this term because of the lack of direct evidence in this group of patients of ongoing infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
Other Johns Hopkins researchers who participated in this study include Alison W. Rebman, Ting Yang, Erica A. Mihm, Mark J. Soloski and Cheryl Novak.
Risk Factors For The Development Of Lyme Disease
Where you live or vacation has an effect on whether you contract Lyme disease. Your profession and extracurricular outdoor activities also play a role in your risk factor for its development. The most common risk factors for its development are:
- Spending time outdoors in wooded or grassy areas
- Having exposed skin when working or playing outdoors
- Failing to remove ticks promptly or properly
Many people dont initially realize that theyve been infected by a deer tick, and it may be weeks or months before they begin to realize that the signs and symptoms they are experiencing are in fact Lyme disease. Early detection is key to effective treatment if left unchecked, the complications and consequences of this disease could be severe. Knowing what to look for is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment.
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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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease can affect different body systems, such as the nervous system, joints, skin, and heart. The symptoms of Lyme disease are often described as happening in three stages. Not everyone with Lyme has all of these, though:
The rash sometimes has a bulls-eye appearance, with a central red spot surrounded by clear skin that is ringed by an expanding red rash. It also can appear as an growing ring of solid redness. Its usually flat and painless, but sometimes can be warm to the touch, itchy, scaly, burning, or prickling. The rash may look and feel very different from one person to the next. It can be harder to see on people with darker skin tones, where it can look like a bruise. It gets bigger for a few days to weeks, then goes away on its own. A person also may have flu-like symptoms such as fever, tiredness, headache, and muscle aches.
Risk Factors For Post
Youre at a greater risk for post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome if youre infected by the bite of a diseased tick. If the infection progresses to the chronic stage, your symptoms might continue for weeks, months, or even years after the initial tick bite.
You may also be at a higher risk for these long-term symptoms if youre not treated with the recommended antibiotics. However, even people who receive antibiotic therapy are at risk. Because the cause of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome is unknown, theres no way to determine whether it will progress to the chronic stage.
Typically, the symptoms of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome resemble those that occur in earlier stages. People with persistent symptoms often experience lingering episodes of:
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How To Prevent Post
While you may not be able to prevent post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, you can take precautions to prevent coming into direct contact with infected ticks. The following practices can reduce your likelihood of getting Lyme disease and developing persistent symptoms.
If a tick bites you, contact your doctor. You should be observed for 30 days for signs of Lyme disease. You should also learn the signs of early Lyme disease and seek prompt treatment if you think youre infected. Early antibiotic intervention may reduce your risk of developing chronic symptoms.
The signs of early Lyme disease can occur from 3 to 30 days after a bite from an infected tick. Look for:
- a red, expanding bulls-eye rash at the site of the tick bite
How Is Chronic Lyme Disease Diagnosed
If you’ve had Lyme disease in the past and are still experiencing symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, rash, fever, chills, or body aches, it’s important to talk with your doctor as soon as possible about your experience.
Your doctor may order further testing to rule out any other medical conditions that could be causing your symptoms. He or she may also ask about your personal medical history and the severity of your symptoms, and a physical examination may be performed.
Your doctor may also recommend that you have certain laboratory tests done. Most often, physicians use an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test to diagnose Lyme disease, but these tests can be unreliable and give false-positive results. If your ELISA test comes back positive, your doctor may confirm the results using a Western blot test, which detects the proteins your immune system makes to target the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
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What Are The Treatments For Lyme Disease
A two-week course of antibiotics is the recommended treatment for early Lyme, usually Doxycycline or Amoxicillin. However, providers can extend treatment to 3 or 4 weeks in more complex cases. The NIH is conducting studies on chronic Lyme in search of more effective treatments. For now, many chronic Lyme patients have success with low-dose antidepressants, diet and lifestyle changes and alternative therapies in addition to antibiotics.
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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Can Lyme Disease Completely Be Cured
Taking oral antibiotics typically cures Lyme disease after two to four weeks. You may need to get antibiotics through the vein for four more weeks. However, theres no reason to think that Lyme disease stays in you forever after treatment.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If youre going to spend time in an area that might have ticks, take measures to avoid being bitten. This includes wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants to make it harder for ticks to bite. If you feel sick after being in an area that probably has ticks, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. If your provider prescribes antibiotics, make sure you take all of them as instructed.
My Child Had Lyme Disease Got Treated And Is Now Depressed Could This Be A Sign Of A Relapse
Depression is a word that encompasses physical, cognitive, and emotional components. The physical would be poor sleep, fatigue, low energy, lack of sex drive. The cognitive would include poor concentration and trouble making decisions. The emotional would include feeling guilty, hopeless, suicidal, and being unable to enjoy life in any aspect. Chronic symptoms triggered by Lyme disease are most often associated with insomnia or hypersomnia, fatigue, headaches, pain, and, not uncommonly, problems with cognition as well. In other words, chronic Lyme symptoms are most often associated with the physical and cognitive parts of the depressive picture and less often with the emotionally despairing part. When a person presents with the emotional part that is sustained for at least 2 weeks, it may be that a full syndrome depression has emerged related to the Lyme disease or that it is a concurrent but unrelated illness. The emotional aspects of depression might occur secondarily to being sick with a physical illness or directly from an infection affecting the brain or from chemicals affecting the brain that were released by infection outside of the brain. When a person has Lyme encephalitis , the emotional part of depression can be very dramatic. The person might be suddenly tearful for no apparent reason, have very poor frustration tolerance, become paranoid or angered at the least provocation, and appear to have a personality change.
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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.
How Is It Diagnosed
If youâve been outside in an area where ticks are known to live, you should tell your doctor. Theyâll also want to know about the symptoms youâre having. These details are crucial to making a diagnosis of Lyme disease.
Early symptoms that usually occur within the first month after a tick bite can include:
- Rash at the site of the tick bite that may look like a âbullâs-eyeâ
- Problems with your short-term memory
Symptoms that come and go are common with Lyme disease. They will also depend on the stage of the disease.
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The Stages Of Lyme Disease And Their Accompanying Symptoms And How You May Still Miss Them
Lyme Disease comes in three stages, each of which has their own distinct symptoms .
Localized Lyme Disease or Stage 1: Days to weeks after the tick bite, Borrelia Burgdorferi haven’t yet spread through your body, and you are likely to experience flu-like symptoms. A fever, muscle and joint pain, a stiff neck, headaches, and a feeling of general malaise may plague you. The much talked-about “bull’s eye rash” can act as a tell-tale sign to get yourself to a doctor, but make no mistake it doesn’t show up in everyone.
Alaine didn’t have a bull’s eye rash, and never saw the tick who gave her Lyme Disease. This is more common than you may think. Like her, you may dismiss these symptoms as a flu, some random virus, an integral part of getting older, or having an overly busy life things you wouldn’t ordinarily seek medical help for.
Early disseminated Lyme Disease or Stage 2: Borrelia Burgdorferi are making their way through your system, and weeks to months after your unwanted encounter with a tick, you may experience pain and numbness, Bells palsy , heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and chest pain. You’ll begin to catch on that something is wrong, but by this time, a tick bite may not be anywhere on your mind even if you knew you were bitten, and you may get lost in the battery of diagnostic tests.
Theres No Lyme Disease Vaccine
There was a simple, safe, effective vaccine for Lyme disease about 20 years ago. Dr. Sam Telford, Director of the New England Regional Biosafety Laboratory at Tufts University, helped develop it in the early 1990s. Sadly, he says, it now sits on a shelf.
Telford and his team came up with a unique method where the vaccinated animals blood came into the tick and killed the bacteria before they had a chance to get into the body. SmithKline Beecham company, now GlaxoSmithKline, optioned the vaccine and tested it in three-phase clinical trials with 8,000 subjects, finding it safe and 60%70% effective in preventing illness. The FDA approved it for sale in 1998, but the company withdrew it in 2002 because of lawsuits.
Lyme disease activists said, Oh, well this vaccine gave us Lyme disease, or it gave us arthritis, Telford said. They instituted a class action lawsuit against SmithKline to the tune of $1 billion.
The CDC said there was no medical basis for the lawsuit, and it was thrown out of court. Still, the company got cold feet. They withdrew the vaccine from the market, and its been sitting in their freezer ever since.
In the meantime, a veterinary vaccine maker known as Meriel packaged the vaccine for use in dogs. Its essentially the same one that went through human clinical trials, says Telford. So we can vaccinate dogs against Lyme with a vaccine that is safe and effective, but we cant do it for humans.
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Is There A Blood Test For Lyme Disease
If your doctor suspects that you have Lyme disease, they may order two blood tests. These will look for signs that your body is trying to fight it off. The results are most precise a few weeks after youâve been infected.
These tests are:
ELISA test. This test canât check for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. It can only look for your immune systemâs response to it.
Although itâs the most common way to check for Lyme disease, the ELISA test isnât perfect. It can sometimes give false âpositiveâ results. On the other hand, if you have it done too soon after youâve been infected, your body may not have developed enough antibodies for the test to detect them. This will give you a ânegativeâ result even though you do have Lyme disease.
Western blot test. Whether your ELISA test comes back positive or negative, your doctor will need to do this blood test, too.
A Western blot uses electricity to split certain proteins in your blood into patterns. This is then compared to the pattern of people known to have Lyme disease.
At least five band matches means that you have Lyme disease. Still, not all labs have the same standards. Thereâs a chance that you could get a âpositiveâ result from one and a ânegativeâ result from another.
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