Testing For Lyme Disease At Home
People can find many at-home Lyme disease tests online.
They typically come with instructions, and most companies require individuals to collect their samples at home and mail it to a lab for testing. The lab then issues the results, and a person can access them via email or through a companys online portal.
People may also be able to speak with a companys medical team to discuss their results and, if applicable, any next steps.
MNT chooses at-home tests that meet the following criteria where possible:
- Laboratories: Where possible, MNT will choose companies that process test samples in
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.
Once Borrelia burgdorferi gets into your blood, your body begins to make special proteins called antibodies to fight it off. The ELISA test checks for those antibodies.
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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Lyme Disease Frequently Asked Questions
If you have not done so already, remove the tick with fine-tipped tweezers.
The chances that you might get Lyme disease from a single tick bite depend on the type of tick, where you acquired it, and how long it was attached to you. Many types of ticks bite people in the U.S., but only blacklegged ticks transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Furthermore, only blacklegged ticks in the highly endemic areas of the northeastern and north central U.S. are commonly infected. Finally, blacklegged ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease. This is why its so important to remove them promptly and to check your body daily for ticks if you live in an endemic area.
If you develop illness within a few weeks of a tick bite, see your health care provider right away. Common symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash, fever, body aches, facial paralysis, and arthritis. Ticks can also transmit other diseases, so its important to be alert for any illness that follows a tick bite.
Moody KD, Barthold SW, 1991. Relative infectivity of Borrelia burgdorferi in Lewis rats by various routes of inoculation.external iconAm J Trop Med Hyg 44: 135-9.
There are no reports of Lyme disease being spread to infants through breast milk. If you are diagnosed with Lyme disease and are also breastfeeding, make sure that your doctor knows this so that he or she can prescribe an antibiotic thats safe for use when breastfeeding.
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How Do They Test For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is best tested using two different blood testing methods. These are:
- The Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay test: In a nutshell, this test will look for signs that your body is trying to fight off Lyme disease by producing antibodies. However, the ELISA test may come back negative even when a person is infected by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. False-negatives can occur during the early stages of the disease, where the infected persons body has not produced enough antibodies to fight off the B. burgdorferi bacteria. For this reason, reliable diagnosis is not usually based only on the ELISA test results.
- Western Blot test: Heres a simple way to explain the western blot test without getting into all the nitty-gritty details of what it does and how it does it. Put simply, it separates the blood proteins and detects antibodies to the bacteria causing the Lyme disease. Usually, when an ELISA test comes back positive, a western blot test is performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Ideally, the CDC recommends standard two-tier testing to confirm the veracity of the Lyme disease test accuracy. Together, the ELISA and western blot tests are 99.9% accurate.
Cure For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease–caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete–is often transmitted through the deer tick. However, it’s not the only source of infection. It can also be transmitted via mites from rats, mice, birds, and maybe even bed bugs. Of course not every mite or bed bug is infected with Lyme disease but in the case of these organisms transmitting skin parasites such as Collembola, Strongyloides Stercoralis, and Morgellons it’s estimated that 95% of those afflicted with these organisms have Lyme disease according to Dr. Harvey of Texas.
Usually when inflicted via the deer tick a bull’s eye rash develops which is often the tell tale sign of Lyme disease. Treated early on Lyme disease can often be effectively treated with several common antiobiotics. Years ago tetracycline was widely used, today doxycycline and amoxicillin or cefuroxime are used for two to three weeks.
If the disease is more progressed, intravenous antibiotics are used for up to a month.
For even more resistant chronic Lyme disease a rotation of various antibiotics–bactrim for 3 months followed by zithromax for three months and then biaxin for another two months. With chronic Lyme disease it morphs to hide in yeast. Thus simultaneously Fluconazole and Flagyl er 750 mg two days in a row per week are often used.
I chose the latter one, Max GXL, and noticed that the swelling and pain in my knee diminished greatly within six weeks.
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Are The Patients Symptoms Consistent With Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne infection in North America1,2 and incidence in Canada is increasing, with more than 500 cases reported in 2013.3 However, this patient is very unlikely to have Lyme disease because he lacks both a compatible epidemiologic exposure and clinical findings of Lyme infection.
The cause of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks .1 Most infections occur during spring and summer, and transmission is uncommon if tick attachment is less than 36 hours.1 Infected ticks have now established endemic populations in several Canadian provinces, including British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Maritime provinces.3
How Do People Get Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is spread to humans from the bite of a black-legged tick infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease cannot be transmitted from person to person. Most humans are infected through the bite of an immature tick during the spring, summer and fall months. Nymphs are the size of a poppy seed and difficult to see. Therefore, the nymphs have ample time to feed and transmit the infection . Adult ticks are the size of a sesame seed and are most active during late summer and fall.
Ticks wait on grass, bushes, or shrubs for an animal or human to come by. Ticks cant jump or fly. If the animal or human brushes past the tick, it can crawl on to the skin or clothes and then travel on the body to find a suitable location to attach for a blood meal.
Currently there are no areas in Newfoundland and Labrador that are believed to have permanent populations of black-legged ticks. However, low numbers of these ticks have been found, mostly on pet animals, and it is thought these are ticks carried into the province by migratory birds. Some of these ticks have been infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. For more detailed information regarding how Lyme disease affects animals in the province please visit Lyme Disease in Newfoundland
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Borrelia Species Pcr Results
Borrelia species DNA may occasionally be detected in the blood by PCR, but a negative PCR test is of no value in excluding localised Lyme disease.
The overall sensitivity of PCR on a skin biopsy of an EM or ACA rash is around 50% and is limited by the chance of a single biopsy hitting a site with a significant number of organisms.
In neurological Lyme disease involving the CNS, up to 10% of cases may be PCR positive on a CSF sample a negative PCR result does not exclude the diagnosis.
Synovial fluid may be positive by PCR in up to 50% of cases. A negative result does not exclude the diagnosis.
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.
Itâs not clear why this happens to some people and not others. This means thereâs 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 familiesâ social care
Page last reviewed: 05 July 2021 Next review due: 05 July 2024
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What Is The Difference Between This Indirect Blood Diagnostic Test And A Direct Test
Direct diagnostic tests measure the presence of the bacteria directly and are much more reliable than tests looking for indirect measurement of antibodies that measure a persons immune response to an infection. Lyme disease diagnoses and disease management would benefit from validated diagnostic tests that directly measure the infection such as a culture, PCR test, or antigen detection tests. Direct tests are vital to the management of other infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis C, strep, and COVID-19, but have not yet become widely available for Lyme disease.
Best For A Quick Turnaround: Letsgetchecked Lyme Infection Test
LetsGetCheckeds kit tests for Borellia IgG and IgM antibodies through a fingerprick collection. The website states people should receive the test 57 days after ordering.
The company requires individuals to activate the kit, so they can collect the sample and send it back using the prepaid shipping label. They can then access their results on their online account within 25 days.
In addition, LetsGetCheckeds laboratories have a certification, meaning it is compliant with federal certifications.
Pros and cons
The LetsGetChecked Lyme Infection Test features the following advantages and disadvantages:
|the company health team will contact individuals directly if results require prompt attention||no receipt for health plan reimbursement|
The cost for the test is $89, with an additional $6 fee that covers the physicians visit.
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The Most Common Lyme Disease Blood Tests
The two most common diagnostic tests for Lyme disease are the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and the Western blot. These Lyme disease tests allow physicians to visualize the reaction between antibodies in an infected persons blood to specific antigens or parts of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
In the case of the Western blot, for example, antigens are separated by size and then transferred onto a membrane strip. When an antibody reacts with an antigen on the strip, that band will turn dark purple. For test results to be positive, a specific combination of bands on the membrane strip must be present.
What Do Testing Kits Typically Include
Depending on the method of collection, testing kits may include:
- a device to collect the blood, urine, or saliva sample
- a container to ship the sample back to the lab
- a shipping label
Some kits come with a bandage, wipes, and a biohazard bag. Kits may contain extras such as Styrofoam holders, labels, or tubes with varying solutions inside.
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What If Lyme Disease Goes Untreated
If Lyme disease goes untreated, it can affect other systems in the body. According to the , common symptoms of later stage Lyme disease include:
- severe headaches and neck stiffness
- additional erythema migrans rashes on other areas of the body
- facial palsy, which is a loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face
- arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly in the knees and other large joints
- intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat
- episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- nerve pain
- shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
How Long Do Lyme Disease Flare Ups Last
These symptoms can include fatigue, joint or muscle aches, and cognitive dysfunction. They may last up to six months or longer. These symptoms can interfere with a persons normal activities and may cause emotional distress as a result. However, most peoples symptoms improve after six months to a year.
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How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
Though several types of tests do exist for the diagnosis of Lyme disease, the best tests for a Lyme disease diagnosis are blood tests, also known as serological tests. These tests are indirect, meaning they dont detect the infecting bacteria or its antigens but rather the antibodies an infected persons body produces in response to these antigens.
Serological Testing Of Csf For The Diagnosis Of Neurological Lyme Disease
Serological testing for neurological Lyme disease is based on demonstrating intrathecal synthesis of Borrelia-specific antibodies in CSF. For laboratory testing for neurological Lyme disease, IgG ViraChip® serology assays are performed on CSF and paired serum and the results compared.
CSF samples must be tested in parallel with a contemporaneous serum sample and albumin and total IgG levels compared between the 2 sample types to produce a meaningful result.
For necessary sample types and volumes see Sample types for Lyme disease testing.
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Learn More About Lyme Disease Diagnosis Testing
Tests can not only help to diagnose a disease, but also to manage an illness. A good test can help a doctor assess the severity of disease, estimate the patients prognosis, monitor the course of disease progression, stability or resolution, detect relapse, and select drugs or adjust therapy. Unfortunately, a test with this capability does not exist for Lyme disease. To learn more about specific tests, visit: Lyme Disease Tests.
LymeDisease.org has developed a Lyme disease symptom checklist to help you document your exposure to Lyme disease and common symptoms for your healthcare provider. You will receive a report that you can print out and take with you to your next doctors appointment that may be helpful in your Lyme disease diagnosis.
What Is The Most Accurate Test For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is more common than many people think. Figures from the Center for Disease Control suggest that roughly 300,000 Lyme disease cases occur every year in the US.
The numbers are alarming, but it gets worse as finding accurate diagnostic tests can be challenging. Although the disease is treatable, it is nearly impossible to tackle it effectively if it is not diagnosed accurately and early enough.
Late detection can lead to severe health problems such as arthritis, heart blockage, and inability to concentrate, among other problems.
Given the prevalence and seeming elusiveness of the disease, some of the logical questions concerned persons would ask are: what is the most accurate test for Lyme disease? And when should I get checked for Lyme disease? This article will proffer answers to these and many other related questions. But first, a little background would be in order.
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Current Problems With Lyme Disease Diagnosis & Patient Care
- Diagnostic tests cannot yet accurately identify the earliest stage of Lyme disease when making the diagnosis is crucial.
- The rash is not always present or easily recognized
- Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis can make Lyme disease more difficult to treat and lead to prolonged and debilitating illness
- Early symptoms can be mistaken for a summer flu
- Lyme disease can involve several parts of the body, including joints, connective tissue, heart, brain, and nerves, and produce different symptoms at different times.
- Antibody testing done after early treatment may be negative and never turn positive for some cases
- Borrelia burgdorferi can evade our protective immune system and trigger immune system dysfunction.
- No reliable blood test is presently available to measure treatment success, necessitating close clinical follow up and improved physician education.
- Presently there is no vaccine to prevent Lyme disease available to humans.
Are There Any Diseases That Can Be Misdiagnosed As Lyme Disease
Lots of diseases could be misdiagnosed as Lyme disease. This of course makes sense when you know that Lyme disease itself may manifest as a multisystemic disorder that can mimic other diseases. This means that just as the Lyme disease might be missed in some cases, some individuals may be misdiagnosed as having Lyme disease when in fact they have another disease. Erring on either side of this diagnostic divide can be dangerous. Given that the main symptoms that afflict patients with Lyme disease are fatigue and pain and given that these are non-specific symptoms seen in a wide ranges of diseases, including cancer, hematologic, and endocrine disorders, one has to make sure to rule out other reasonable causes of fatigue and pain before making the diagnosis of Lyme disease. It is also important to realize that a patient can have two independent diseases Lyme disease and another emergent condition. For example, concurrent depression,sleep apnea or hypothyroidism may exacerbate fatigue in a patient with actual Lyme disease.
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