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.
These symptoms are often compared to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
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
When To See A Doctor
A person should see their doctor if they get a tick bite as deer ticks and black-legged ticks can carry Lyme disease. If a person is unsure about the type of tick that bit them, they can bring it with them in a sealed container.
The symptoms of Lyme disease can take some time to develop. Sometimes, a person may not notice the tick, and it will fall off their body before they have any symptoms.
It is also possible that a doctor will instruct a person to wait a month before undergoing a test for Lyme disease.
During this time, a person should look for early signs of Lyme disease. These include:
Using Antibiotics To Treat Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is typically treated with antibiotics, although the type of antibiotic used depends on what stage of the disease you have.
After you remove a deer tick that has been attached to you for at least 36 hours the amount of time it takes for the tick to transmit the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi theres a 72-hour window during which your doctor may give you a single dose of the antibiotic doxycycline to prevent the development of Lyme disease.
Doxycycline is prescribed to patients age 8 and older, except for pregnant women. Not everyone in this situation will receive doxycycline the deer tick bite needs to have occurred in a highly endemic area .
If you have localized Lyme disease with the telltale bulls-eye rash, also known as erythema migrans, but no other significant symptoms, your doctor will most likely treat you with oral doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime for 10 to 14 days. If you have early disseminated Lyme disease, which may include the characteristic rash along with cardiac or neurologic symptoms, the treatment duration is lengthened to 14 to 21 days.
But if you have severe neurologic disease, such as meningitis, encephalitis, or nerve issues, or serious cardiac symptoms, your treatment will require taking intravenous ceftriaxone for 14 days.
Late disseminated Lyme disease is also treated with various antibiotics:
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Are There Alternative Treatments For Lyme Disease
There are a variety of alternative treatments aimed at patients who believe they may have Lyme disease. But the effectiveness of these treatments is not supported by scientific evidence, and in many cases they are potentially harmful.
Bismacine, also known as chromacine, is an alternative-medicine drug that some people use to treat their Lyme disease.
The Food and Drug Administration warns that people should not use this injectable product, which has reportedly caused hospitalization and at least one death. 70563-1.pdf” rel=”nofollow”> 6)
In addition, the FDA notes that bismacine contains high levels of bismuth, which can cause heart and kidney failure.
Other alternative treatments include oxygen therapy, light therapy, and a variety of nutritional or herbal supplements. But there is no evidence that these treatments are clinically effective in the treatment of Lyme disease.
Treatment Within 30 Days Of Initial Tick Bite
Studies show that 80 to 90% of people, who take a two to three week course of antibiotics within 30 days after a known acute tick bite, do not develop chronic Lyme disease. Based on my experience, these people are cured of Lyme disease – they will not have further problems with Lyme disease, unless they get a new tick bite.
For the best chance of cure in acute Lyme, I found doxycycline to works best in my Seattle practice. But if a person cannot take doxycycline, cefuroxime or amoxicillin is an option. These are the three antibiotics recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. In my experience, I find these work better in an acute setting than herbal antibiotics at getting a cure.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Lyme Disease
Despite some skepticism in the medical community, chronic Lyme disease is a growing epidemic in the U.S. This stems partly from the shortcomings of many of the officially recommended Lyme disease tests, which leave too many patients with untreated infections that then become persistent and debilitating.
The following article will cover what you should know about chronic Lyme and provide an introductory but non-exhaustive chronic Lyme disease symptoms checklist.
The Chance Of Getting Lyme Disease
Not all ticks in England carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
But it’s still important to be aware of ticks and to safely remove them as soon as possible, just in case.
Ticks that may cause Lyme disease are found all over the UK, but high-risk places include grassy and wooded areas in southern and northern England and the Scottish Highlands.
Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures that live in woods, areas with long grass, and sometimes in urban parks and gardens. They’re found all over the UK.
Ticks do not jump or fly. They attach to the skin of animals or humans that brush past them.
Once a tick bites into the skin, it feeds on blood for a few days before dropping off.
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Lyme Disease: A Curable Nuisance Or A Chronic Time Bomb
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State entomologist Kirby Stafford holds a photograph of a white-footed mouse at the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Stations Jenkins-Waggoner Laboratory in New Haven. Staffords focus is on finding the least-toxic alternatives to pesticides to combat the tick population.
Dr. Eva Sapi, University of New Haven professor and director of the Lyme disease program, right, with her research assistants in the lab. Sapi has trained more than 90 graduate students in Lyme disease research.
Top, from left: The blacklegged or deer tick and American dog tick bottom, from left: lone star tick and Asian longhorned tick
Lyme disease is a specter living among us, a dark cloud casting an ominous shadow of fear and anxiety over our state. Whether those fears are justified or unnecessary depends on who you ask.
The symptoms of Lyme range from mild inconvenience to debilitation the outcomes vary from normalcy in a matter of weeks to, in the rarest of cases, death. The angst Connecticut residents feel lies in the unknown, the misunderstood and the controversial.
For the best Connecticut Magazine content, plus the week’s most compelling news and entertainment picks, delivered right to your inbox, .
Its no wonder one Connecticut doctor calls Lyme by far the most controversial disease in medicine.
OUT IN THE WOODS
DOCTORS ON THE FRONT LINE
Dos And Donts Of Getting Help
If you think you may have this syndrome, experts suggest these tips:
Donât assume. Tell your doctor your symptoms, and let her check you.
Donât rush to a specialist. For an accurate diagnosis, start with a primary care doctor, says Eugene Shapiro, MD. He’s a professor of pediatrics, epidemiology, and investigative medicine at Yale School of Public Health.
Do take your antibiotic as prescribed. Even if you feel better, continue the course. Itâs 4 weeks of medications at most. Some experts believe stopping the drugs before your prescription ends may cause symptoms to linger.
Do find experts who can help your symptoms. Ask your doctor if it would be worth your while to visit naturopaths, traditional Chinese medicine doctors, psychologists, or other experts. Many medical centers have complementary and alternative medicine experts on site.
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Cdc: We Are Not Dismissing Your Pain
Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases specialist and an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, says there is no scientific evidence to suggest an ongoing infection in patients with lingering Lyme disease symptoms. He said all infections require a recovery time beyond when the antibiotics run out. He said that continuing antibiotic treatment after a few weeks for people who have Lyme disease carries a lot of risk and no real benefit.
Adalja said the positive test results that some laboratories produce are just a way to support a doctors diagnosis. It is not a valid way of approaching this, he said. The CDC also warns against prolonged antibiotic use because it can drive the growth of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotic medications.
Oral antibiotics can cause gastrointestinal upset, and those who take antibiotics intravenously are subject to line infections. Last year, the CDC issued a call to action to halt unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics.
Yang said Lyme disease is a very well understood condition, with close parallels to another old and well understood disease, syphilis, which is caused by a related bacterium.
The CDCs online information on post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome skirts the controversy by emphasizing that all patients need personalized care.
Q: Im Achy And Tired All The Time Could I Have Lyme Disease
The answer is yes. When a patient comes into my clinic for the first time, I take down their clinical history. If I suspect tick-borne disease, I ask if theyve been exposed to ticks or tick habitats. Have they observed any rashes?
The typical Lyme rash expands and is ring-like, usually not itchy or painful. If its under a persons hairline, between the toes, or on the back of the body, it may not be noticed. However, at least 21% of Lyme patients, and probably more than 50%, never see a tick or a rash.
Early Lyme patients present with flu-like symptoms. Tick bites and resulting symptoms often occur in the summer, but in my California practice, Lyme season may overlap with the fall/winter flu season, confusing the diagnostic picture.
Next, I do a complete physical exam, with an emphasis on neurological deficits, such as loss of balance, tremors, facial asymmetry , and asymmetric reflexes. Then, I ask about the progression of their symptoms over time.
In the first few months of Lyme disease, patients often experience malaise, fatigue, mild-to-severe headaches, nerve pain or tingling in the hands or feet, all in a relapsing-remitting course. In other words, the symptoms wax and wane.
If Lyme is diagnosed four or more months after symptom onset, the picture of the disease is different and variable. The longer between infection and diagnosis, the higher likelihood that more bodily systems have been invaded.
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Potential Treatment For Lyme Disease Kills Bacteria That May Cause Lingering Symptoms Study Finds
Screening thousands of drugs, Stanford scientists determined that in mice, azlocillin, an antibiotic approved by the Food and Drug Administration, eliminated the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Deer ticks are vectors of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.Scott Bauer/USDA Agricultural Research Service
For decades, the routine treatment for Lyme disease has been standard antibiotics, which usually kill off the infection. But for up to 20% of people with the tick-borne illness, the antibiotics dont work, and lingering symptoms of muscle pain, fatigue and cognitive impairment can continue for years sometimes indefinitely.
A new Stanford Medicine study in lab dishes and mice provides evidence that the drug azlocillin completely kills off the disease-causing bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi at the onset of the illness. The study suggests it could also be effective for treating patients infected with drug-tolerant bacteria that may cause lingering symptoms.
This compound is just amazing, said Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Biomaterials and Advanced Drug Delivery Laboratory at the Stanford School of Medicine. It clears the infection without a lot of side effects. We are hoping to repurpose it as an oral treatment for Lyme disease. Rajadas is the senior author of the study, which was published online March 2 in Scientific Reports. The lead author is research associate Venkata Raveendra Pothineni, PhD.
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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Chronic Lyme: What Happens When Lyme Goes Untreated
The Lyme community typically uses the term chronic Lyme disease to describe a range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms that crop up after getting Lyme disease and persist for months to years after infection.
The risk of chronic Lyme increases the longer a Lyme infection goes untreated or undertreated. In other words, patients are more likely to recover fully if their Lyme infection is detected and treated as early as possible after the discovery of a tick bite. This stage is usually marked by symptoms such as fevers, chills, muscle aches, and sometimes rashes.
When left untreated or undertreated, however, Lyme disease can spread throughout the body and affect:
- The central nervous system
- Muscles and joints
As Lymedisease.org points out, these symptoms can evolve, disappear, and reappear at different times.
Racial Differences In Incidence
Lyme disease is reported primarily in whites, although it occurs in individuals of all races. No genetic explanation is known for this the disparity most likely stems from social or environmental factors and possibly to the fact that erythema migrans is more difficult to diagnose in dark-skinned individuals.
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Doctors Debate Patients Suffer: The Fight Over Chronic Lyme Disease In Wisconsin
Mainstream medicine says the tick-borne infection is a short-term ailment, but some patients insist they have Lyme-caused symptoms that last for years.
If life had gone as planned, Maria Alice Lima Freitas would be in medical school, inspired by the career of her father, a surgeon who practiced in Brazil. But instead of changing careers, the 49-year-old therapist retired from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Is Chronic Lyme Disease Real
Chronic Lyme disease is a real, and serious condition. However, there is inconsistency about diagnosis and treatment in the medical community because chronic Lyme disease isnt well defined and is difficult to definitively diagnose.
There is no one clinical definition for chronic Lyme. Its often used asan umbrella term for a few groups of patients:
Lyme disease symptoms mirror many other common conditions, and its easy to miss an insect bite. There is a blood test for Lyme, but it commonly produces false negative results.Factors like the stage of the disease, type of sample, and variations in tests all affect the sensitivity and interpretation of tests for Lyme disease. If the infection was recent, antibodies may not yet be present at the time of testing.
In the medical field, we like to fit patients in neat little boxes and solve for their ailments, says Shah. In relation to tick-borne illness, this can be extremely difficult due to the fact that Lyme disease can present as over 100 symptoms, and no two cases are alike.
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Lyme Disease Treated With Homeopathy
A 55 year old woman comes to the clinic with fatigue, lack of confidence and the inability to handle every day’s life challenges.
Having handed over her life to her mother in her formative years and later to her husband, she admits feeling incapable of caring for herself. She lacks trust and the self-confidence to the degree of despair. As a result of her helplessness, she feels disappointed in her marriage, “controlled by others, exploited and sucked dry.”
I always need firm ground under my feet, otherwise I am afraid of being left hanging in the air or go crashing down. Ive no basic trust. I have strong existential fears. I couldnt take care of myself alone and financially support myself. Ive got a real fear of starving. I cant survive on my own.”
The patient carries on telling that her weak boundaries invite family members to impose their will onto her without her being able to defend her own needs.
As to her physical complaints she describes how her symptoms come in phases and flood her system like poison. In these times she feels the need to rest, retreat and do nothing at all.
She notices her dependence and helplessness which in this stage becomes unbearable. Her symptoms range form shoulder pain, joint problems in wrists, knees and hips to the point where the pain makes her scream.
Added symptoms are digestive problems, candida infection, tinnitus, dislike of milk and pronounced sensitivity to cold.