How Can Lyme Disease Last For Years
Category: Health Published: October 9, 2015
If treated, Lyme disease does not last for years. However, for some people, the after-effects of the disease can linger for months and sometimes even years. Alternative medicine providers call this condition “Chronic Lyme disease,” but this title is simply wrong. For a person who has been infected with Lyme disease and then treated, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is measurably no longer present in his body, even though he may still feel some symptoms. The correct title for this condition is therefore “Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome.”
Lyme disease is an infection caused by a bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is delivered to humans through tick bites. From the bite site, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. Usually, but not always, an infectious tick bite causes a characteristic red rash at the site of the bite. Other symptoms include fever, muscle soreness, headache, fatigue, and dizziness. In a few cases, symptoms can also include mood swings, memory loss, and sleep disturbance. If left untreated for too long, Lyme disease can lead to nerve damage, thereby causing shooting pain, numbness, and even paralysis.
The CDC states,
Joint Pain And Swelling
About half of people with untreated Lyme get chronic arthritis. Joint pain and damage most commonly occur in the knee. But Lyme can also affect other joints, like the:
These joints may feel swollen and warm to the touch. Lyme arthritis is more common in older people with Lyme disease.
Risk Factors For Post
Youre at a greater risk for post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome if youre infected by the bite of a diseased tick. If the infection progresses to the chronic stage, your symptoms might continue for weeks, months, or even years after the initial tick bite.
You may also be at a higher risk for these long-term symptoms if youre not treated with the recommended antibiotics. However, even people who receive antibiotic therapy are at risk. Because the cause of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome is unknown, theres no way to determine whether it will progress to the chronic stage.
Typically, the symptoms of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome resemble those that occur in earlier stages. People with persistent symptoms often experience lingering episodes of:
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How To Avoid Tick Bites
To reduce the chance of being bitten:
- cover your skin while walking outdoors and tuck your trousers into your socks
- use insect repellent on your clothes and skin products containing DEET are best
- stay on clear paths whenever possible
- wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to see and brush off
A Reasonable Approach To Post
If you are being treated for PTLD, there is no magic bullet to treat this problem, but here are some important steps to consider:
- Choose a doctor you trust and who can work closely with you.
- If your doctor agrees to start antibiotics for several months, make sure you talk about the risks and cost, as this can be dangerous and expensive.
- Make sure not to rely solely on antibiotics. The evidence for a benefit from antibiotics is weak, and we rely mostly on physicians clinical experience and interest in the disease to design a personalized therapeutic plan. For some, a more holistic approach may be the way to go.
- If you try supplements, ask about their source and purity, as they are not FDA-regulated.
- Consider looking for services in medical school hospitals or clinics where they may have programs with ongoing research on how to diagnose and treat Lyme.
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Long Term Effects Of Lyme Disease In Humans
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Study Shows Evidence Of Severe And Lingering Symptoms In Some After Treatment For Lyme Disease
In a study of 61 people treated for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, Johns Hopkins researchers conclude that fatigue…
In a study of 61 people treated for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, Johns Hopkins researchers conclude that fatigue, pain, insomnia and depression do indeed persist over long periods of time for some people, despite largely normal physical exams and clinical laboratory testing.
Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome is a real disorder that causes severe symptoms in the absence of clinically detectable infection, says John N. Aucott, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center.
The findings, published in the December issue of Frontiers in Medicine, could spur further investigation into the cause of persistent symptoms, a source of medical controversy. As Lyme disease rates have steadily climbed in the United States since it was first recognized in the mid-1970s, so have reports of a collection of symptoms that patients commonly refer to as chronic Lyme disease. Experts in the field have questioned the validity of this term because of the lack of direct evidence in this group of patients of ongoing infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
Other Johns Hopkins researchers who participated in this study include Alison W. Rebman, Ting Yang, Erica A. Mihm, Mark J. Soloski and Cheryl Novak.
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Who’s At Risk And Where Are Ticks Found
The risk of getting Lyme disease is higher:
- for people who spend time in woodland or moorland areas
- from March to October because more people take part in outdoor activities
Ticks are found throughout the UK and in other parts of Europe and North America. There are a high number of ticks in the Scottish Highlands.
It’s thought only a small proportion of ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Being bitten doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be infected. However, it’s important to be aware of the risk and speak to a GP if you start to feel unwell.
What Are The Side Effects Of Lyme Disease Treatments
Antibiotics, like all medications, have the potential for side effects. Any antibiotic can cause skin rashes, and if an itchy red rash develops while on antibiotics, a patient should see their physician. Sometimes symptoms worsen for the first few days on an antibiotic. This is called a Herxheimer reaction and occurs when the antibiotics start to kill the bacteria. In the first 24 to 48 hours, dead bacterial products stimulate the immune system to release inflammatory cytokines and chemokines that can cause increased fever and achiness. This should be transient and last no more than a day or two after the initiation of antibiotics.
The most common side effect of the penicillin antibiotics is diarrhea, and occasionally even serious cases caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile. This bacterial overgrowth condition occurs because antibiotics kill the good bacteria in our gut. It can be helpful to use probiotics to restore the good bacteria and microbiome balance.
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The Main Controversies Surrounding Lyme Disease
The blood test the CDC recommends to diagnose Lyme checks for an immune response to the bacteria, not for the Borrelia itself. Thats why the test can be negative if the disease is present for less than a month. It takes at least a couple of weeks to mount an immune response that would turn the test positive. It is easier to diagnose Lyme if you have the classic bulls-eye rash that shows up a few days after the tick bite. In these cases, testing is not even necessary. But the rash only shows up in 80% of cases.
If making a diagnosis can be complex, the controversy about the treatment is so intense that some have even coined the dispute Lyme wars. The clash emerged from doctors offices, and spread to public hearings in statehouses around the country. One of the main points of contention is the duration of antibiotic treatment not only for acute Lyme but also for PTLD. The evidence to recommend a specific length of antibiotics treatment is scarce. Most physicians follow the two- to-four-week treatment the CDC recommends. Some studies funded by the National Institutes of Health did not show any benefit when patients used several months of antibiotics. However, there is anecdotal evidence from a few patients who improved after months of antibiotic treatment. The naysayers believe this is probably due to a placebo effect.
How Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine for Lyme disease. But you can avoid Lyme disease by avoiding tick bites, checking for ticks, and removing ticks promptly, before they become lodged in the skin. Some tips:
Avoid tick playgrounds: Ticks like low-level shrubs and grasses, particularly at the edges of wooded areas. If youre hiking, try to stay in the center of the trail and avoid bushwhacking. Walk on cleared paths or pavement through wooded areas and fields when possible.
Dress appropriately: Long pants with legs tucked into socks and closed-toed shoes will help keep ticks away from skin. Light-colored clothing helps make ticks visible.
Insect repellant: Products that contain DEET repel ticks but do not kill them and are not 100 percent effective. Use a brand of insect repellent that is designated as child-safe if your child is 1 year or older. For infants, check with your pediatrician about what brands are safe to use. You can also treat clothing with a product that contains permethrin, which is known to kill ticks on contact.
Shower after outdoor activities are done for the day. It may take four to six hours for ticks to attach firmly to skin. Showering will help remove unattached ticks.
- all parts of the body that bend: behind the knees, between fingers and toes, underarms and groin
- other areas where ticks are commonly found: belly button, in and behind the ears, neck, hairline, and top of the head
- anywhere clothing presses on the skin
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Symptoms Of Early Stage Lyme Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , early-stage Lyme disease symptoms crop up within 3 to 30 days after exposure and can include but are not limited to:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- Erythema migrans , a bulls-eye-shaped rash that appears at the site of the tick bite
Early Lyme disease does not always appear the same in all patients. For example, up to 30% of patients dont remember experiencing a bulls eye rash.
The Causes And Risk Factors Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is more common from mid-spring to mid-fall because its when people in some of the most affected regions often enjoy outdoor activities. In the U.S., the regions with the highest number of incidents include the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, as well as Midwest states like Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Ticks carrying Lyme disease thrive in wooded or grassy areas, so hikers and campers are among those at most risk, along with those whose jobs involve working outdoors. These include geographers, landscape architects, environmental engineers, wildlife biologists, farmers, and ranchers.
In colder weather, people expose less skin. However, when the weather allows, people are more likely to wear clothing that exposes more skin. While walking in tall grass, ticks can attach themselves to a persons skin or to a section of clothing first, before traveling to an area where the skin is exposed.
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Which Organs Are Affected By Lyme Disease
The organs affected by Lyme varydepending on the severity of the illness and how early it is caught andtreated. In the early stages, the disease attacks mostly the immune system,compromising its ability to fight off the infection. As the disease spreads, itdoes so throughout the entire body, affecting every organ it reaches.
As Lyme can affect all the organs in thebody, it can cause a variety of problems. The symptoms that occur with Lyme diseasecan also mimic other conditions, like the flu as mentioned above, or moreserious conditions such as ALS/MND , MS , fibromyalgia, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and over 300 otherconditions.
Image by on : The spread of Lyme disease bacteria cells works a lot like the cells of the immune response.
Lyme Disease Informational Resources
The following resources can help individuals learn about the fundamentals of the condition, including what causes Lyme disease:
- MedlinePlus, Lyme Disease: Risk factors, symptoms, and treatment of Lyme disease.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, How Many People Get Lyme Disease?: Data on the growing number of Lyme disease cases and answers to common questions.
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
Since Lyme disease can take different forms, and since its often confused with other conditions, its important to be proactive if you suspect the condition. What signs prompt medical help? Call the healthcare provider if:
- You have a bullseye rashor any kind of rashfollowing a tick bite.
- You experience flu-like symptoms after a tick bite.
- You experience symptoms of more advanced Lyme disease: arthritis, heart palpitations, facial paralysis, dizziness, and others.
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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Lyme Disease Can Live In Your Lymph Nodes Causing Swelling
Lymphoadenopathy duringLyme Borreliosis is a correlation that doctors are still exploring in depth.Simply put, Lymphoadenopathy is the swelling of the lymph nodes. LymeBorreliosis is the scientific term for Lyme disease, and so the phrasedemarcates the tendency for the lymph nodes to swell when a person hascontracted Lyme. Studies show that Lyme actuallymakes a home for itself in a persons lymph nodes,which triggers an immune reaction, sending the immune system into attack modeto protect the body and commonly leading to swelling.
Often called The GreatImitator, Lyme disease doesnt stop here when it comes to inciting reactionsfrom the body that are difficult to attribute specifically to Lyme . As researchers at University ofCalifornia, Davis, report: B. burgdorferi have apparently struck anintricate balance that allows the bacteria to both provoke and elude theanimals immune response. It is this cycle oftriggering an immune response but not being eradicated, only to trigger theresponse again, that might explain why some peoples Lyme disease becomes achronic illness.
Lyme Disease And Mental Health
Ah! The joys of summer sun, vacation, bike riding, swimming, and hiking. All good things for our mental health. Generally. The thing is that lots of animals love this time of year, including ticks.
And where there are ticks, there is Lyme Disease. The black-legged tick is the only organism that can transmit Borrelia burgdorferi between animals or between animals and humans. Carried by a range of hosts, the black-legged tick is about the size of a poppy seed. If it is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, its bite can have profound health implications. Small tick big bite.
What is Lyme Disease? With more than 300,000 cases diagnosed each year, Lyme Disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the United States. Caused by the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, the early signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. People often think they have the flu. One of the best indicators that the problem is Lyme Disease is the distinctive rash that is caused by the tick bite. Sometimes the rash looks like a bulls eye but most of the time, the rash is simply a red circle. Left untreated, or in its chronic state, Lyme Disease includes symptoms of fatigue, restless sleep, aching joints or muscles, pain or swelling in joints, decreased short-term memory or ability to concentrate, and speech problems.
Symptoms Of Late Stage Lyme Disease
The CDC reports that late stage Lyme disease may appear days to months after the initial tick bite and may include but are not limited to:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes in new places on the body
- Facial palsy, also known as Bells palsy paralysis of one side of the face
- Arthritis or joint pain and swelling, especially of large joints
- Intermittent tendon, muscle, joint, nerve, or bone pain
- Heart palpitations or arrhythmia
- Dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain or spinal cord
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
As mentioned above, late stage Lyme may also be characterized by the recurrence of early stage symptoms, such as fatigue.
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