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How Lyme Disease Affects The Brain

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Are Your Symptoms Because You Have Lyme Or Are They Caused By Lyme Itself

Huntingtons disease, Lyme disease, and Stress: How they Affect the Brain

May is Lyme disease awareness month. Over the years, as an active clinician who regularly sees people who are suffering from Lyme disease, I read with interest the news items that find their way into popular and mainstream media outlets regarding the condition. Most focus on prevention efforts wear white clothing, tuck your pants inside your socks if going into the woods, wear tick repellent spray, check yourself after coming indoors, mind your pets, etc. Some focus on the medical signs, symptoms, and implications of Lyme the classic bullseye rash, stiff joints, fatigue, headaches, and so on. Fewer will focus on the enduring medical, legal, and political controversy surrounding this illness. Is chronic Lyme disease real? Should people be treated with long-term antibiotics? Is the testing accurate? Are the current treatment guidelines appropriate and adequate to address all facets of the illness? These are all worthy and important topics to highlight. However, I see few items about the potential psychological and psychiatric implication of Lyme and other tick-borne infectious diseases. This is a major factor that has tremendous impact on the lives of those suffering from this illness.

How Lyme Disease Can Affect The Brain

Topics covered in latest issue of the Lyme Times include:

Lyme disease and your brain Head trauma and Lyme An antibiotic that targets Lyme without hurting your gut Excerpt of Ross Douthats riveting Lyme memoir The Deep Places

and more

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Detecting Borrelia Spirochetes: A Case Study With Validation Among Autopsy Specimens

  • 1Division of Immunology, Tulane National Primate Research Center, Tulane University Health Sciences, Covington, LA, United States
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, NY, United States
  • 3Division of Molecular Imaging and Neuropathology, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, United States
  • 4Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Skopje, Macedonia
  • 5Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University, New York, NY, United States

Read Also: When Should You Get Tested For Lyme Disease

Lyme Sci: Lyme Spirochetes In An Autopsied Brain

An important new study from Tulane University found Lyme bacteria in autopsied brain tissue of a woman who had been aggressively treated with antibiotics.

These findings underscore how persistent these spirochetes can be in spite of multiple rounds of antibiotics targeting them, says Dr. Monica Embers, of Tulane.

Dr. Embers team collaborated with Dr. Brian Fallon, of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

In their study, published in Frontiers in Neurology, the researchers performed an in-depth autopsy on the brain tissues of an elderly woman who had been previously treated for neurological Lyme disease.

And guess what? They found intact Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent that causes Lyme disease, inside portions of the patients brain as well as DNA evidence in her spinal cord.

Obviously, you cant take brain samples from a living person. Therefore, autopsy samples, such as used in this study, can demonstrate that Borrelia can remain in human tissues even after extensive treatment with antibiotics. Such studies are essential in the effort to develop better diagnostics and treatment.

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Chronic Lyme And Mental Health

99 best images about Lyme and RMSF and Mold Toxins Info on Pinterest

The CDC lists having a chronic disease as a risk factor for developing mental illness. This underscores the reality that even for patients who do not develop neurological Lyme disease, the experience of Lyme disease alone can cause or exacerbate mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and others listed above.

Getting diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease can be stressful and exhausting, especially the longer this process takes which, for many, can be several years. Patients often must deal with conflicting or inaccurate diagnoses, lack of support from health care professionals, and exorbitant medical bills, all while battling physically and mentally debilitating symptoms with no end in sight. This experience can lead to a drastic reduction in quality of life that creates the perfect conditions for mental illness.

Also Check: How To Treat Chronic Lyme

The Stages Of Lyme Disease

With Lyme, people need to understand that there are two stages to the disease: Early- and Late-Disseminated Lyme Disease. Early-Disseminated disease occurs within days to weeks after the tick bite. Tick bite Lyme Disease treatment at this stage helps to prevent later problems. If not caught early, the infection may spread to many other parts of the body, affecting the central nervous system , the peripheral nervous system , the cardiovascular system, the liver, the eyes, and the muscles and joints.

During Late-Disseminated Lyme Disease, inflammation most commonly affects the joints and nervous system, and symptoms occur weeks, months or even years after a tick bite. This stage can also set in as little as two weeks after a bite. In some individuals, these symptoms may be the first symptoms of the disease. This makes it difficult to connect current depression or anxiety to a tick bite from months or years before. Moreover, if one had issues like depression, anxiety or learning difficulties before Lyme Disease, they may not make the connection to the Lyme when these issues worsen.

How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed

It can be hard for doctors to diagnose Lyme disease because:

  • The tick bites and rash might not be noticed.
  • Many early symptoms seem like the flu or other illnesses.
  • Blood tests are not always accurate, especially early in the illness.

Doctors can diagnose early Lyme disease if they see a tick bite and rash. Blood tests usually arenât helpful in the first month of Lyme disease.

To diagnose late Lyme disease, doctors:

  • Ask about symptoms.
  • Do blood tests that look for signs of Lyme disease.

Depending on the symptoms, doctors might order other tests, such as a spinal tap, which looks at the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.

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Treatment For Neurological Lyme Disease

After defining the problem, she moves on to solutions. The next section deals with pharmaceutical approaches to Lyme disease in the brain, including an explanation of the blood-brain barrier and what drugs can effectively penetrate it. She discusses medications that reduce inflammation, as well as those to stabilize neurological function, balance mood and help people think more clearly.

Section 3 discusses natural approaches to Lyme disease in the brain: antimicrobials, such as Cats Claw and teasel root anti-inflammatories, such as curcumin and stephania root antioxidants, such as glutathione neurotransmitter support and essential oils such as peppermint and frankincense.

Section 4 deals with nutrition. Readers of her earlier book, The Lyme Diet, will find familiar themes: avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and additives such as MSG.

Ducharme explains about therapies to help the brain, including neurofeedback, Brainwave Entrainment, and hyperbaric oxygen. She covers sleep and exercise. She reviews different kinds of psychotherapy for patients with Lyme brain.

When Should You See A Doctor If You Think You Have Lyme

New study finds evidence of Lyme bacteria in brain tissue

The rash is a pretty good indication that you may have been bitten. Take a photo of the rash and see your doctor. At this stage, treatment with antibiotics will probably work.

If you donât have the rash but have symptoms like fatigue, fever, and headache but no respiratory symptoms like a cough, you may want to talk to your doctor.

Also Check: What Is Early Stage Lyme Disease

Acute Vs Chronic Lymedisease

There are some importantdifferences between acute and chronic Lyme disease. When infection occurs andthe bacteria enter the body, the immune system recognizes the microbes asharmful and begins fighting them. If the immune system is strong and robust,the initial symptoms may be very mild, and sometimes there wont be anysymptoms at all. This is why people often dont even realize theyve beeninfected.

In its early stages, Lymedisease is usually treated successfully with antibiotics. But if the infectionremains undiagnosed, the bacteria can go on living inside the cells withoutcausing any trouble for a long time. As they travel to other tissues andorgans, including the brain, they eventually disperse throughout the body. Theonly time symptoms might present is when the immune system weakens due toillness, extreme stress, or some other reason. This is when the bacteria startto flourish, causing a chronic infection.

Chronic Lyme disease occurswhen the entire microbiome is disrupted. After this has happened, the immune system continues todysfunction, which can lead to many different types of symptoms. This chronicphase can even last a lifetime.

How Lyme Disease Can Affect The Entire Body

Holtorf Medical Group

Lyme disease can affect any organ or system within the body, including the immune system, brain, nervous system, heart, and gut. Most cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. are caused by a corkscrew-shaped spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi. This organism has a unique way of evading the human immune system starting as early as when the tick bite occurs and has learned to survive in the human body even when aggressive treatment attacks are mounted against it.

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Whats The Difference Between Neurologic Lyme Disease And Ms

Olga Syritsyna, MD

Hearing the words you have Lyme disease or you have MS can be quite unsettling. And to complicate matters, when Lyme disease affects the central nervous system, the symptoms can be very similar to MS. So it can be hard to tell the difference to the untrained eye. Many doctors are generalists and not specially trained to diagnose either disease. Dr. Olga Syritsyna is a neurologist with subspecialty training in neurologic Lyme disease and MS.

What is neurologic Lyme disease?First, lets start with defining Lyme disease. Its a seasonal tick-borne infection caused by the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that can affect multiple organs and systems in the body. Its named after Lyme, CT, where it was first identified in 1975. In about 15 percent of cases, Lyme disease affects the central nervous system. When it does, it is known as neurologic Lyme disease. Sometimes, people who think they may have Lyme disease find out they have MS . Lyme disease as an infection can act to trigger MS attacks. This is why being seen by a neurologist specially trained to know the differences is key.

Why choose Stony Brook for diagnosis and treatment of neurologic Lyme disease?For neurologic Lyme disease, Stony Brook has extensive experience in detecting antibodies to the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that is carried by ticks and can affect the central nervous system. We do frequent lumbar punctures and perform a variety of tests on cerebrospinal fluid.

How Lyme Disease Affects The Brain

Lyme And The Limbic System

By Rachel Keck, MS

Did you ever wonder how Lyme disease affects the brain, including symptoms of brain fog? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 200,000 people are diagnosed every year with Lyme disease.

But many believe the true number of people suffering from Lyme in the United States is actually much higher. Thats because Lyme disease symptoms vary greatly and can impact different people in different ways. Aside from that, the ELISA screening test most doctors use misses up to 35 percent of Lyme cases, making it a horrible first-line detection for the disease.

The problem is likely only going to get worse, too, being that Lyme is among the major health effects of climate change.

Even with many cases missed in the doctors office, Lyme disease is still the most common tickborne disease in the northern hemisphere. Despite being so common, Lyme disease symptoms vary depending on the patient and how the bacteria impacts different systems of the body. In fact, Lyme disease often mimics other diseases or illnesses and be referred to as the new great imitator.

Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed as such diseases, including:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Autism-like syndromes
  • Various psychiatric illnesses

Also Check: Does Lyme Disease Have A Cure

Nested Pcr Provides Sensitive Detection For Borrelia Sp Dna

To determine the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi, we first investigated the presence of DNA in the brain samples. To this end, nested PCR was adapted to increase the sensitivity and specificity of the assay . DNA isolated from frontal cortex of an uninfected non-human primate was used as a negative control and as a positive control, DNA isolated from NHP frontal cortex tissue that was incubated with B. burgdorferi spirochetes was used . To prevent cross-contamination between positive control and autopsy specimens, DNA from autopsy tissue samples was isolated in laboratories that were never exposed to B. burgdorferi DNA.

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How Do Lyme & Tick

  • A 37 year old man with a constant headache so intense any sound, light, or movement is intolerable.
  • A 26 year old with Multiple Sclerosis but with no family history of the disease.
  • A 12 year old girl with chronic muscle spasms so severe she requires a walker.
  • A 51 year old woman unable to retrieve words when she speaks.
  • A 10 year old boy with a sudden onset of an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • A 4 year old with intense rages that occur almost all day.
  • A 27 year old man with crippling anxiety that over 30 physicians and mental health providers were unable to treat effectively

All these cases are people with Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease. It seems inconceivable that a little tick can cause such extremes and incapacitation. Yet these diseases and autoimmune disease, in general, are on the rise.

**Dr. Roseann is hosting a professional training on the Neurocognitive and Neuropsychiatric impact of Lyme, Tick-Borne, and PANS/PANDAS with BCIA on June 29th. Learn More.**

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Immunofluorescent Detection Is The Most Reliable Method To Detect Spirochetes In Fixed Tissues

To strengthen the results of our PCR, we next explored immunofluorescence assay to see if these tissue specimens contain morphologically intact spirochetes. Initially, we tested our rabbit polyclonal antibody on NHP frontal cortex tissue that was incubated with borrelial spirochetes to see the specificity of the antibody . The image cleanliness was increased after incubating the tissue with the lipofuscin quencher that quenches the fluorescence of lipofuscin aggregates, which are formed during normal aging process . Secondary antibodies were tested with isotype controls for specificity on human and macaque . Optimal fixation time is very crucial for the success of the IFA. Tissues must be properly fixed under-fixation leads to tissue deformation, shrinkage and autolysis , whereas over-fixation may permanently mask the antigen, abolishing its detection even after antigen-retrieval steps .

What Neurocognitive & Neuropsychiatric Conditions Result From Lyme & Tick

Lyme Disease Signs and Symptoms (2 of 5) | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Neurocognitive and Neuropsychiatric tick-borne disease symptoms can emerge either early or late in the disseminated phase of infection. In untreated Lyme Disease, the encephalopathy can be moderate to severe, and can wreak havoc on an individuals life. Unfortunately, the average person sees 5 to 7 doctors before they are correctly diagnosed . Lyme Connection: Leir Center Presentation).In one common scenario, an individual is certain they have Lyme and go to their physician.

The doctor then tells them they dont have it or dont meet the clinical criteria. Unless one takes control of their own medical care or sees a Lyme specialist, they may find themselves thinking they just have a psychiatric issue without a medical source. Individuals often go down this road only to find that they dont get much relief this way either.

Bransfield and Weintraub note there are hundreds of peer-reviewed articles address a causal association between Lyme Disease and mental symptoms. Fallon and Neilds note that 40% of patients with Lyme Disease develop neurologic involvement of either peripheral or central nervous system. The range of neurocognitive, neuropsychiatric and physical symptoms is wide.

Read Also: Hyperbaric Treatment For Lyme Disease

Neurological Infections In Travelers/immigrants

Many infectious diseases that affect the nervous system can be acquired from other parts of the United States or other parts of the world. In the United States, several regional viruses and fungi can cause encephalitis and/or meningitis that individuals coming from endemic regions may have been exposed to. Worldwide, neurocysticercosis, poliomyelitis, malaria, schistosomiasis, rabies, chikungunya virus, dengue fever, leptospirosis, Tick-Borne encephalitis virus, cycloviruses, and melioidosis are some of the infections that can be acquired which affect the nervous system.

Also Check: How To Check For Lyme Disease

Misdiagnosis And Delayed Treatment

The fortunate ones are able to catch Lyme within the first few weeks when the appropriate antibiotics have a much better chance of working. Unfortunately, Lyme disease is often missed and the infection is allowed to take hold, disrupting the immune system and causing a cascade of inflammatory responses.

Even when Lyme is suspected and a blood test is ordered, the common Western Blot test often results in false negatives while Lymes co-infection antibodies are rarely even looked for, although they may even be more common than Lyme itself! Its not uncommon for someone with Lyme to receive multiple negative test results before achieving a proper diagnosis. This leaves thousands of undiagnosed patients sick and confused, spending months, years, or even decades wandering around from doctor to doctor, trying to find out what is wrong with them. Ineffective testing methods combined with inadequate insurance coverage mean that people with Lyme often encounter financial ruin before a cure.

After 3-6 months in the body, Lyme has taken hold of the immune system and becomes difficult to eradicate with antibiotics alone. A study published in 2012 showed that Lyme disease has tenacious survival skills. Inside the body, the Borrelia organism forms a biofilm, which allows it to constantly rearrange its structure, hide, and resist environmental conditions such as antibiotics.

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