How You Get Lyme Disease
If a tick bites an animal carrying the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, the tick can become infected. The tick can then transfer the bacteria to a human by biting them.
Ticks don’t jump or fly. They climb on to your clothes or skin if you brush against something they’re on. They then bite into the skin and start to feed on your blood.
Generally, you’re more likely to become infected if the tick is attached to your skin for more than 24 hours. Ticks are very small and their bites are not painful, so you may not realise you have one attached to your skin.
Why You Might Experience Brain Fog
While many people with Lyme disease report experiencing brain fog, the connection between Lyme disease and brain fog is complex and remains poorly understood. At this time, researchers are unsure how Lyme disease can directly cause brain fog. However, research on brain fog may help scientists better understand the relationship.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in studies about brain fog because some people who tested positive for COVID developed brain fog. Based on these studies, some researchers believe there may be two possible causes of brain fog:
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What Are The First Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
In the first early localized stage of Lyme disease the skin at the site of the tick bite becomes infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria which can cause an expanding round or oval red skin lesion called erythema migrans. This may or may not be associated with flu-like symptoms within days to a month after the tick bite such as achiness, chills, fever, sweats, fatigue, malaise, headache, stiff neck, muscle soreness, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and sore throat. The combination of the skin lesion and flu-like symptoms are the primary manifestations of acute stage Lyme disease. Acute Lyme disease is not associated with typical cold-like symptoms of runny nose, prominent cough, or prominent diarrhea.
Find Whats Triggering Your Brain Fog
The final symptom were going to discuss in this blog is brain fog. Again, its one of those symptoms that can be attributed to multiple causes, but when we see it pop up alongside flu-like symptoms, fever, and fatigue, the alarm bells start ringing. Brain fog is a term that describes a general feeling that your brain isnt firing as it should. Its commonly associated with slower cognitive ability, poor concentration, forgetfulness, confusion, or dazedness. It can also affect your judgement.
It can sneak up on you over time. You might start by feeling like your thoughts are disorganized or that youre struggling to put your thoughts into words. As it progresses, you might find yourself staring into space more than normal or struggling to solve basic everyday problems. In some cases, it can arise even after Lyme disease has been successfully treated. For a long time, this aspect of Lyme disease has been poorly understood, but new studies are providing better insights all the time.
This is important, because its now well-known that Lyme disease can cause psychological symptoms in addition to physical symptoms. This includes depression and anxiety. As such, its common that misdiagnosed psychiatric disorders can delay treatment for Lyme disease that presents with these symptoms. You may not actually have anxiety or depression at all. In fact, its likely that successful treatment will restore your mental capabilities and result in a significant mood boost.
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Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Many people with early symptoms of Lyme disease develop a circular rash around the tick bite. The rash:
- usually develops around 3 to 30 days after you’ve been bitten
- is often described as looking like a bull’s-eye on a dart board
- will be red and the edges may feel slightly raised
- may get bigger over several days or weeks
- is typically around 15 cm across, but it can be much larger or smaller
Some people may develop several rashes in different parts of their body.
Around 1 in 3 people with Lyme disease won’t develop a rash.
Lyme Disease Can Cause Chronic Fatigue
Lots of things can cause chronic fatigue, but Lyme disease is undoubtedly one of them. Left untreated, it can develop into a chronic infection that can affect everything from your sleep to your adrenal glands, sex hormones, gut health, thyroid, immune system, heart, and brain. All of these things are critical to your overall health and well-being and can cause a deep level of exhaustion.
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to treatment. The current thought leaders in this space are the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society and the Infectious Disease Society of America . Each has published its own evidence-based treatment guidelines, but while ILADS is committed to long-term treatment, IDSA favors a short-term approach.
Dr. Ridinger is a member of ILADS. Lyme disease is complex and treatments have come a long way since the early days, when patient after patient experienced little to no benefit from antibiotic regimens. The modern approach is grounded in whole-body wellness, which gives your body the reserves it needs to successfully fight infection so you can start feeling better quickly.
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The Chronic Lyme Disease Controversy
Chronic Lyme disease is a poorly defined term that describes the attribution of various atypical syndromes to protracted Borrelia burgdorferi infection. These syndromes are atypical for Lyme disease in their lack of the objective clinical abnormalities that are well-recognized in Lyme disease and, in many cases, the absence of serologic evidence of Lyme disease as well as the absence of plausible exposure to the infection. The syndromes usually diagnosed as CLD include chronic pain, fatigue, neurocognitive, and behavioral symptoms, as well as various alternative medical diagnosesmost commonly neurologic and rheumatologic diseases. Perhaps the most recognized and contentious facet of this debate is whether it is effective, appropriate, or even acceptable to treat patients with protracted antibiotic courses based on a clinical diagnosis of CLD.
Theres A Difference Between Acute And Chronic Lyme Disease
Testing is far from perfect for anything other than acute Lyme infection. A patient can just present with a certain set of symptoms and then be diagnosed. Usually this occurs when the patient sees a Lyme Literate MD . That doctor diagnoses presumptively,based on a set of symptoms or the patients history of a tick bite.
The problem here is that the set of symptoms is similar to that of Adrenal Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and other conditions.
Chronic Lyme Disease, sometimes called Post Lyme Disease Syndrome, is confusing and controversial. The disease is so controversial that conventional medicine does not view it as an official diagnosable condition.
Chronic Lyme Disease has a set of symptoms that is similar to that of Adrenal Fatigue,
Theoretically, CLD can occur months to years after a possible initial infection. The symptoms can be similar, and the testing is inconclusive. Typical treatment is long-term antibiotic cocktails. Results vary tremendously, and symptoms appear to reoccur.
This begs the question: Is it Lyme disease thats causing these non-specific symptoms, or could it be something else?
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Touched By Lyme: The Difference Between Normal Tired And Too Tired To Breathe
Guest blogger Jennifer Crystal explores what fatigue can mean to a person with chronic Lyme disease.
A few weeks ago, there was a small fire in my apartment building which necessitated three separate evacuations between the hours of 2:00 and 5:00am. Needless to say, it was a long night, and no one got much sleep. The next day I felt buzzy and glazed over, the same feeling I used to get in college when I stayed up too late writing a paper. I was tired, but it was normal tired, not sick tired. Its a difference Lymies can recognize all too well, but one thats hard to distinguish when we talk about a general symptom of fatigue.
Fatigue can mean a lot of things. It can mean muscle soreness after a bike ride. It can mean feeling drained after a long day at work. It can mean droopy eyes, the desire to take a nap, the need for an extra cup of coffee. It can even mean the buzzed feeling I experienced after a night of little sleep. All of these descriptions fit into the category of normal tired. What makes them normal is the base level of health underlying them. If a person is otherwise healthy, they are able to push through symptoms of normal fatigue because their adrenals are working properly and their bodies are not worn down from fighting infection.
Lyme survivor Jennifer Crystal is pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing at Emerson College, in Boston. Her website is jennifercrystal.com. Email her at email@example.com.
Recognizing Signs Of Lyme Disease
Long-term Lyme disease is not always easy to recognize. Until someone develops a more reliable test for this illness, doctors must be skilled diagnosticians to determine if youve been infected. So, its unlikely that you would know for sure whether you have this disease without talking with an expert.
However, if you notice Lyme disease symptoms, you can reasonably assume its worth consulting a Lyme disease specialist.
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How To Accurately Diagnose Lyme Disease
Ok, by this point in the post, I hope youre far more cautious about conventional testing for Lyme. Just because your family doctor tells you Lyme antibodies were not found in your blood, that does not mean you dont have Lyme disease.
Now, Im going to complicate testing for Lyme disease even more.
Those antibodies that show up in your blood, they can last for a number of years. Meaning that you could have been infected with Lyme disease at some point in time but your immune system warded off the infection. But your immune system is still producing antibodies which is why your test comes back positive. This could lead to an intense treatment protocol that may not even be necessary.
A better way of testing for Lyme disease is through something called an EliSpot. EliSpot testing measures T-lymphocytes. T-lymphocytes are a subtype of white blood cells that play a central role in cell-mediated immunity. Cell-mediated immunity does not rely on antibodies to defend your body from invaders. Instead, lymphocytes that are unique to an invader are used for defense.
As you may have surmised, there are specific T-lymphocytes that your body uses for fighting the Borrelia bacteria .
CD57+ cells are helpful to be run as you work your way through a treatment protocol. If your treatment is working, youll start to see an increase in CD57+ cells. This is one of the first markers you can use to determine if treatment is working or not.
Can Chronic Fatigue Be Transmitted Through Tick Bites
To be clear, chronic fatigue syndrome is a diagnosis based on exclusion. And what qualifies as a positive diagnosis has changed a lot over the past few years. To get a diagnosis of CFS, all the blood markers run by your doctor need to fall with normal ranges.
But how likely was it that your doctor tested you for Lyme disease?
And if he/she did, the way you were tested was likely via the inaccurate testing methods I described. One small study of 210 patients with a positive chronic fatigue diagnosis found that 209 of them were thought to have been exposed to Borrelia. And when these same patients were treated with antibiotics 62% had a statistically significant improvement in fatigue symptoms.
Other studies have also shown there to be a significant correlation between Lyme and chronic fatigue syndrome. Though researchers are unsure if CFS develops as a result of Lyme disease or if Lyme disease actually is CFS.
But before you go get tested for Lyme disease, know that there is also research that suggests its not at all connected to chronic fatigue syndrome. Some studies have shown the proteins found in the cerebrospinal fluid of those with Lyme disease to be completely different than those with chronic fatigue syndrome. If Lyme caused chronic fatigue syndrome, you would expect to find similar CSF proteins in both populations.
Now, I want to hear from you!
How has Lyme disease affected your fatigue levels?
How did you get tested for Lyme disease?
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Your Symptoms Improve When Youre Taking Medication For Other Ailments
Patients taking antibiotics for an unrelated problem , will often report that their symptoms are much better while taking the antibiotic, and worsen when the antibiotic is stopped. Conversely, some individuals feel much worse on antibiotics, where all of their symptoms are intensified. This is called a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, where the Lyme bacteria are being killed off, and temporarily worsen the underlying symptoms.
What Causes Lyme Disease
Black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are the prime culprits of carrying Lyme disease, and the infection is most common in the northeastern and north central U.S.
The bacterium that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, is so widespread in parts of the country that healthcare providers will now test for it and the other, lesser-known tick-borne diseases, some of which have similar symptoms in patients complaining of fatigue with no other obvious causes.
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How Do You Contract Lyme Disease
In order to develop Lyme disease, an infected tick must bite you. The bacteria enter your skin through the bite and eventually enter your bloodstream. In most cases, a deer tick must be attached to your skin for 36 to 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease.
The most common way to come into contact with chronic Lyme disease is to stay in the open forest, where deers are known to move freely. However, not going to the forest does not necessarily mean that you do not end up with chronic Lyme disease. It is also possible for ticks to bind to another host and eventually find their way into your home. This can happen in several ways.
Chronic Lyme: The Disease That Doesnt Exist
Until recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention flatly dismissed the idea of chronic Lyme disease. Despite many patients reporting debilitating long-term symptoms after being treated for Lyme disease.
Fortunately, recent studies have verified the existence of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. In fact, the CDC now includes information about it on their website.
But many practitioners havent gotten the word that there really is a chronic condition related to Lyme infection. Patients with ongoing symptoms of fatigue, joint pain or fuzzy thinking may find themselves facing a skeptical healthcare provider who doesnt recognize the symptoms relationship to Lyme disease.
We still dont know a lot about Lyme disease or why post-treatment Lyme syndrome occurs. And there is no consensus at all about how to treat it. Retreatment with IV antibiotics isnt particularly effective and may be harmful.
This leaves many people with chronic symptoms related to Lyme disease in a difficult place. Theres no question that theyre suffering from debilitating symptoms. And they deserve a practitioner who takes their concerns seriously. So do you! If your doctor isnt open to your questions, I encourage you to find someone who is.
Aucott JN. Posttreatment Lyme disease syndrome. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2015 Jun 29:309-23. doi: 10.1016/j.idc.2015.02.012.
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How The Vagus Nerve Causes Flu
When a pathogen is detected, mast cells and glial cells release inflammatory markers and cytokines that trigger an immune response. The vagus nerve senses these markers and sends a message to the brain. This causes flu-like symptoms: fever, fatigue, headache, sleep problems, loss of appetite, muscle/joint pain, nausea, autonomic dysfunction, cognitive dysfunction, and others.
This constellation of symptoms causes a sickness response that is designed to make us rest. Ideally, during this rest period our body can use all its energy to fight the infection and recover from the illness. Farmers and pet owners may recognize such sickness behavior in their sick animals, as well.
For years, it has been thought that Borrelia spread to the nervous system via the blood stream. A recent publication indicates that central nervous system involvement in Lyme neuroborreliosis may be a result of Borrelia moving from the skin to the spinal cord via peripheral nerves.
The vagus nerve may be a pathway for this type of infection.
What You Should Know About Lyme Disease Treatment
When it comes to Lyme disease treatment, there are several different ways to deal with the condition, based on how far along the disease has progressed. Here are a couple of facts about Lyme disease treatment to consider.
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One of the most basic forms of Lyme disease treatment is the use of antibiotics. In fact, this form of treatment for Lyme disease is very effective when the condition is diagnosed in its early stages. Generally, the antibiotics will not only address the bacteria that are the root cause of the condition but also help to alleviate the symptoms that are often associated with the early stages of Lyme disease, such as headaches, fever, and outbreaks of rashes around the site of the bite.
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