How Long Does Lyme Disease Last
Lyme disease symptoms can begin anywhere from three to 30 days after transmission of the infection from a tick. If treated early on with antibiotics, most people feel better within a few weeks, says Dr. Zemel.
According to the CDC, its not uncommon for people to experience lingering symptoms like fatigue and joint or muscle pain for a few weeks or months after treatment. Additional antibiotics wont help these symptoms, however, and most people improve on their own over time.
In a small percentage of cases, people continue to experience symptoms for more than six months after their recommended course of antibiotics is completed. This is sometimes referred to as chronic Lyme diseasebut that name is misleading, says Dr. Kuritzkes, because there is no evidence that the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is still present in the body. Instead, the CDC refers to this condition as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome .
As with many other kinds of infectious diseases, some people are left with some debilitating symptoms that dont go away, says Dr. Kuritzkes. I like to compare it to polio: Some people who had polio are left paralyzed, but that doesnt mean they have chronic polio they have permanent damage from the infection, even after its gone away.
Its possible that Lyme infection leads to some damage that we dont fully understand yet, Dr. Kuritzkes adds. But we do know that long-term or repeated courses of antibiotics have no benefit in these cases.
How We Care For Lyme Disease
The Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s provides comprehensive care for children and adolescents with Lyme disease and other infections. Our services include consultation, evaluation, treatment, and management of long-term complications of Lyme disease.
The commitment and compassion with which we care for all children and families is matched only by the pioneering spirit of discovery and innovation that drives us to think differently, to find answers, and to build a better tomorrow for children everywhere.
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.
You May Like: When To Treat Lyme Disease
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.
What Is The Best Way To Remove A Tick And What If I Did Not Get The Entire Tick Out
The Centers for Disease Control provides this information about removing a tick: Remove a tick from your skin as soon as you notice it. Use fine-tipped tweezers to firmly grasp the tick very close to your skin. With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from your skin. Then clean your skin with soap and warm water. Throw the dead tick away with your household trash. Avoid crushing the tick’s body. Do not be alarmed if the tick’s mouthparts remain in the skin. Once the mouthparts are removed from the rest of the tick, it can no longer transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. If you accidentally crush the tick, clean your skin with soap and warm water or alcohol. Don’t use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other products to remove a tick. View a diagram of how to remove a tick.
Read Also: Where Can You Get A Lyme Disease Test
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.
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.
You May Like: Does Lyme Disease Cause Headaches
Lyme Disease Blood Test Results Fully Explained
The Lyme disease blood test is used to discover if someone who has the symptoms of a Borrelia burgdorferi infection actually has the bacteria in their bloodstream. Recent infections are much easier to detect and an IgM and IgG blood test will often be ordered as complimentary information gathering tools. This blood test does not always detect the presence of the disease, so patients that have persistent symptoms after having the test may be re-tested in a few weeks.
If any of these tests come back as positive, then other samples will be used to track the stage of the disease to determine if it has reached the chronic infection stage. At this point, a medical provider will order a Western blot test to confirm the presence of Lyme disease.
When Is The Lyme Disease Blood Test Ordered
When someone has the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease or they live in a region that has deer ticks or black-legged ticks, then this blood test will be ordered. It will also be ordered when these symptoms occur without improvement over the course of 7-14 days by most medical providers.
- A bulls-eye rash that grows from the bite site.
- Fevers, chills, and a persistent headache that does not go away.
- Unusual and persistent fatigue that does not immediately improve.
The IgM and IgG tests are generally ordered first when Lyme disease is suspected. This is because people who have never been exposed to the bacteria that causes the disease will not have any antibodies present. If these tests are positive and followed up by a positive Western Blot test, then the chances are very good that Lyme disease is present. This is especially true if antibody levels continue to rise over time.
Recommended Reading: Lyme Disease Specialists In Maryland
I Am Wondering If Columbia University Uses Xenodiagnosis For Detection Of Infectious Diseases
This is an interesting question. Xenodiagnosis in this case refers to allowing an uninfected tick to feed on an individual with suspected infection to see whether the tick is able to suck up spirochetes when the spirochetes might not have been detectable otherwise. As strange as this concept appears, it has been used successfully recently by Dr. Steven Barthold at UC Davis. After being unable to identify persistent infection in a treated infected mouse using the standard PCR and culture techniques, he was then able to identify the spirochetes in these mice after treatment using the xenodiagnosis method. We at Columbia are not using this method on humans. This is a very intriguing scientific question that should be studied in humans.
The Centers for Disease Control publishes national statistics and identifies those counties with the highest rates of Lyme disease in the United States. The web sites of many state health departments provide data on Lyme disease by town of residence.
Support groups can be found by calling the Lyme clinics or Lyme disease organizations in your state. You might also call a national organization, such as the Lyme Disease Association for the names of support groups in your area.
Welcome To The School Of Lyme 6 Tips For Those Newly Diagnosed With Lyme Disease
Every day, I receive emails from people who have recently been diagnosed with Lyme disease. As most of us do when we hear a new medical term or leave a doctors office, these people frantically search the web looking for information. Sometimes they come across one of my blog posts. Then they write with questions about treatment, with requests for finding a good doctor and with prayers that I will be able to offer them some hope. Most of all, they want to know: What do I do to get better?
Because I find myself offering the same responses to many such patients, I thought I would create a School of Lyme For the Newly Diagnosed. Consider this a brief survey course on tick-borne illness, open to anyone who wants to learn the basics of what to do when you get a Lyme diagnosis.
Lesson 1: Its Lyme, not Lymes!
Its important to know the correct name of your disease! Many people mistakenly call it Lymes disease, assuming it was discovered by a Dr. Lyme. In fact, Lyme is named for the town in which it was first detected: Lyme, Connecticut. As for the names of co-infections, those are not as simple, but should still be part of your working vocabulary well get to those in Lesson 5.
Lesson 2: All cases are different
Lesson 3: Find an LLMD
Lesson 4: Get tested for co-infections
Lesson 5: Take probiotics
Lesson 6: Dont panic
Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.
You May Like: Symptoms Of Untreated Lyme Disease
Late Lyme Disease Symptoms
How Do I Know Whether I Have Received A Sufficiently Long Course Of Antibiotic Therapy
Taken together, these study results suggest that repeated antibiotic therapy may be beneficial for a subgroup of patients. However all of these studies also reported troubling adverse effects associated with the IV antibiotic therapy. Given these potentially dangerous risks, it is clear that other safer and more durable treatments are needed for patients with persistent symptoms.
You May Like: How Long Lyme Disease Last
Most Patients Dont Just Have Lyme
Coinfections to Lyme disease are the rule, not the exception. Most infected ticks also carry other common coinfections like Bartonella, Babesia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and about a dozen others. And just like with Lyme, the testing for these other infections is unreliable and expensivewhich means it can be incredibly hard to nail down an exact cocktail of bacteria that are invading your body. Which obviously makes figuring out what treatment is appropriate just as tricky.
I could make this post 100 items long, but these are the big things I want people to know about this disease. As always, when I speak about my personal journey with Lyme, please try to remember that I am under the care of a small army of very qualified health care professionals who have my best interest at heart. I know you want to help, and gosh, do I ever appreciate that sentiment, but please try to refrain from offering me medical advice over the internet. For my mental health, I am choosing to believe that my care is in good handsand I appreciate your support in that! ?
Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
To prevent Lyme disease, you should lower your risk of getting a tick bite:
- Avoid areas where ticks live, such as grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. If you are hiking, walk in the center of the trail to avoid brush and grass.
- Use an insect repellent with DEET
- Treat your clothing and gear with a repellant containing 0.5% permethrin
- Wear light-colored protective clothing, so you can easily see any ticks that get on you
- Wear a long-sleeve shirt and long pants. Also tuck your shirt into your pants and your pant legs into your socks.
- Check yourself, your children, and your pets daily for ticks. Carefully remove any ticks you find.
- Take a shower and wash and dry your clothes at high temperatures after being outdoors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Also Check: What Tick Has Lyme Disease
For Chronic Cases Of Lyme Does Iv Igg Hold Hope For Remitting Symptoms And Improving The Quality Of Life
To our knowledge, IV Ig has never been studied in a controlled fashion as a treatment for chronic Lyme disease, although some physicians are using this treatment for patients who are thought to have autoimmune-mediated neurologic sequelae from Lyme disease that persist after antibiotic treatment. There is insufficient data at this point to say whether IVIg treatment will have acute or sustained benefit for patients with persistent symptoms after being treated with antibiotics for Lyme disease. This is an area of research which is worth pursuing. Certainly, given that there is evidence that IV Ig may be beneficial for a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis , myasthenia gravis, pemphigus, polymyositis , dermatomyositis , Wegener’s granulomatosis , and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, it is reasonable to consider that this treatment may also be beneficial for patients with post-treatment Lyme disease if there is evidence of immunologic dysfunction. This treatment may be especially helpful if there is evidence of autoimmune-mediated neuropathic pain. IV Ig treatment is expensive and not without risks, so such treatment should only be initiated if the potential for benefits significantly outweigh the risks.
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.
Recommended Reading: Lyme Disease Prevention In Humans
Key Points To Remember
- Most Lyme disease tests are designed to detect antibodies made by the body in response to infection.
- Antibodies can take several weeks to develop, so patients may test negative if infected only recently.
- Antibodies normally persist in the blood for months or even years after the infection is gone therefore, the test cannot be used to determine cure.
- Infection with other diseases, including some tickborne diseases, or some viral, bacterial, or autoimmune diseases, can result in false positive test results.
- Some tests give results for two types of antibody, IgM and IgG. Positive IgM results should be disregarded if the patient has been ill for more than 30 days.