Keeping It In Perspective
Its relatively uncommon for Lyme disease to cause brain effects. When Lyme disease does result in brain swelling or problems with thinking and emotions, there are treatments that can help. Its also important to remember that only a very small portion of cognitive or psychiatric conditions are due to Lyme disease. In any case, talk with your doctor about identifying the cause of your problems and the treatment thats right for you.
Researchers Used Advanced Imaging Scans To Observe White Matter Differences In Small Cohort Of Lyme Patients
- Johns Hopkins Medicine
- In a study using specialized imaging techniques, researchers report distinctive changes in the ‘white matter’ and other brain tissue physiology of those with post-treatment Lyme disease, a condition affecting 10% to 20% of the nearly half a million Americans who contract Lyme disease annually.
In a study using specialized imaging techniques, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report distinctive changes in the “white matter” and other brain tissue physiology of those with post-treatment Lyme disease, a condition affecting 10% to 20% of the nearly half a million Americans who contract Lyme disease annually.
The study’s findings, published October 26 in the journal PLOS ONE, substantiate and help validate that memory, and other cognitive difficulties experienced long-term by individuals with post-treatment Lyme disease, are linked to functional and structural changes in the brain.
Lyme disease, whose early symptoms may include a characteristic rash, flu-like aches and fever, joint pain, and fatigue, is treated using a rigorous course of antibiotics, which usually clears the illness.
Spearheaded by lead author Cherie Marvel, Ph.D., the team recruited 12 male and female post-treatment Lyme disease patients, and 18 participants without a history of Lyme, to undergo fMRI scans while performing a short-term memory task.
Funding for the project was provided by an anonymous donor to John Aucott.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Irregularities With Heart Rhythms
Lyme disease can cause Lyme carditis, which is an inflammation of the heart tissue. It can lead to irregular heart rhythms and even heart block, which is a potentially life-threatening condition.
Lyme bacteria rarely enters your heart tissue, but when it does, it slowly affects the electrical system. The signals have trouble properly and effectively traveling from your hearts upper chambers to lower chambers at a steady pace. This is why it is called heart block by doctors.
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What Is Lyme & Tick
With Tick-Borne illness and Lyme Disease, prevention is key. Even if one already has Lyme Disease, they can get other tick-borne illnesses from another tick bite, so be sure to follow the BLAST protocol .
The BLAST acronym Look for Ticks and rashesApply repellentSpray the yardTreat pets
All five components are essential in preventing disease. According to WCSU professor and Lyme Connection advisor Dr. Neeta Connally, aside from applying repellant, taking a shower immediately after being outside reduces your chance of the disease by 59%.* Being mindful to avoid high tick areas and doing a tick check are also important steps.
Lyme Disease & Other Infectious Agents
Lyme disease isnt the only infection that can interfere with brain function. Other infectious agents can also cause inflammation and lead to brain disorders, which can mimic or cause a multitude of symptoms associated with mental health conditions. Because of this, people with these infections are often misdiagnosed with psychiatric disorders.
Traditionally, the medical community has dismissed the fact that infections can be associated with these types of symptoms, but that is changing. An editorial in theJournal of Alzheimers Diseasewritten by a worldwide group of 33 scientists suggested the medical community has been neglecting to look at infectious diseases as a root cause of many memory problems, including Alzheimers disease and other dementias.
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How Do You Diagnose Lyme & Tick
Lyme and tick-borne disease are complex diseases that produce physical, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms that present differently in each patient. One person may experience severe joint pain, and another may have brain fog and anxiety. Yet, they both have a Tick-Borne illness.
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi . It is usually transmitted by the bite of an infected tick, but many also believe spiders and other biting insects can pass it on. Most people are shocked to learn that the bacteria can also be passed through the placenta of a pregnant woman to the fetus, which is referred to as congenital Lyme. Research from Schlesinger et al. denotes poor treatment outcomes for those with congenital Lyme.
Tick-borne disease symptoms may be acute, or they can wax and wane in a more long-term, chronic manner. Some symptoms appear immediately after a tick bite, but sometimes weeks, months or years pass before the disease presents making diagnosis and treatment even more complex. This waxing and waning of symptoms is confusing, leading to uncertainty regarding underlying cause. This makes one wonder if the tick bite or Lyme Disease one had months ago could be related to current symptoms.
What Causes The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
While the symptoms of Lyme disease can be severe if untreated, they are not thought to be caused by any toxins or detrimental substances produced by B. burgdorferi, as is the case with some other particularly harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, what does cause the symptoms is still not completely clear. It is thought, however, that most of the problems likely are due to side effects of the immune system response to the presence of the bacterium. The primary immune response thought to be at play is inflammation, a general reaction your immune system has to any potentially harmful or foreign substance.
Inflammation involves the accumulation of immune system cells at a site of infection or damage, and the goal of the response is to repair damage and remove potentially dangerous foreign invaders. Inflammation, however, can also lead to secondary symptoms a well-known example of this is when you experience redness, pain, and swelling around the area of an injury. Secondary effects of this sort are thought to contribute to the symptoms of Lyme disease ranging from the initial skin rash to joint problems.
The inflammation that occurs after B. burgdorferi infection seems to be disproportionate to the threat of the bacterium. In other words, the inflammatory response is stronger than it needs to be. Often, it even continues after the immune system has eliminated B. burgdorferi from the body. The reasons for this exaggerated response are unclear.
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Cause #: Untreated Infections
Lyme disease and Lyme coinfections like babesia, bartonella, and mycoplasmacontribute to metabolic and immune changes in the body because the microbes can be low-grade and persist for long periods of time. While no system of the body is off-limits, the central nervous system and the endocrine system are particularly vulnerable.
When pathogens invade the nervous system, white blood cells immune cells like lymphocytes and plasmocytes flood into the white matter of the brain and the spinal cord, says Dr. Bill Rawls, Medical Director of RawlsMD and Vital Plan. This causes a cascade of inflammatory immune messengers, called cytokines, in cerebrospinal fluid.
This influx of proinflammatory cytokines causes neuroinflammation in the brain, which can contribute to a range of neurological symptoms, including those associated with Lyme brain. Because most Lyme patients have a compromised immune system, the body struggles to keep the offending pathogens in check.
The outcome? You continue to experience a prolonged inflammatory response and resulting symptoms until youre able to suppress the harmful, stealth infections.
Not Removing Ticks Properly And Immediately
Not removing ticks immediately and correctly can increase your risk of Lyme disease.
To remove a tick properly:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skins surface as possible.
- Pull the ticks body away from the skin using a slow and steady motion. Do not twist or jerk the tick, as this can cause the mouthparts to break off and stay in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouthparts with tweezers.
- Clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
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Treatment For Neurological Lyme Disease
After defining the problem, she moves on to solutions. The next section deals with pharmaceutical approaches to Lyme disease in the brain, including an explanation of the blood-brain barrier and what drugs can effectively penetrate it. She discusses medications that reduce inflammation, as well as those to stabilize neurological function, balance mood and help people think more clearly.
Section 3 discusses natural approaches to Lyme disease in the brain: antimicrobials, such as Cats Claw and teasel root anti-inflammatories, such as curcumin and stephania root antioxidants, such as glutathione neurotransmitter support and essential oils such as peppermint and frankincense.
Section 4 deals with nutrition. Readers of her earlier book, The Lyme Diet, will find familiar themes: avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and additives such as MSG.
Ducharme explains about therapies to help the brain, including neurofeedback, Brainwave Entrainment, and hyperbaric oxygen. She covers sleep and exercise. She reviews different kinds of psychotherapy for patients with Lyme brain.
Are There Other Kinds Of Tick
Yes. While most people automatically think about Lyme Disease, they need to remember ticks carry multiple infections at the same time.
One common infectious disease that ticks carry is Babesia, a parasite that infects red blood cells and presents like malaria. It is difficult to detect, and symptoms can be mild. For example the, most common physical symptom is sweating. Babesia can lead to serious illness and when present with a co-infection, it can increase the severity of Lyme disease. Babesia is well known to be associated with neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms.
One teen patient experienced a sudden onset of anxiety for several years. The anxiety was so severe she she was unable to leave her home. Although she had all the telltale signs of tick-borne infection, specifically Babesia. Although other doctors missed this, in our first session I identified her as having Tick-Borne Disease
The QEEG brain map clearly showed the illness that the long list of physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists three year period had missed. That led to never being treated properly., She could then be referred to a Lyme physician for proper treatment. Sadly, this teen had a clear-cut case of Lyme Disease and Tick-Borne Disease, but was never identified early and treated with antibiotics. This is an all too familiar story that leads to a case of Late-Disseminated Lyme, and more importantly, a lot of suffering and heartache.
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Study Finds Evidence Of Persistent Lyme Infection In Brain Despite Aggressive Antibiotic Therapy
Tulane University researchers found the bacterium that causes Lyme disease in the brain tissue of a woman who had long suffered neurocognitive impairment after her diagnosis and treatment for the tick-borne disease. The presence of the corkscrew-shaped Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes in the former Lyme disease patients brain and spinal cord were evidence of a persistent infection.
The findings were published in Frontiers in Neurology.
The 69-year-old woman, who experienced progressively debilitating neurological symptoms throughout her illness, decided to donate her brain to Columbia University for the study of the disease as her condition worsened. While she had first experienced the classic symptoms of Lyme disease 15 years prior and was treated accordingly after her diagnosis, she experienced continual neurological decline including a severe movement disorder and personality changes, and eventually succumbed to Lewy body dementia. Lewy body dementia is associated with abnormal protein deposits in the nerve cells of the brain which can cause impairment in thinking, movement and mood, leading to a severe form of dementia.
These findings underscore how persistent these spirochetes can be in spite of multiple rounds of antibiotics targeting them,
This is the first time researchers have identified a possible correlation between Lyme disease infection and Lewy body dementia.
The Consequences Of Improper Diagnosis And Treatment
When people with undetected Lyme disease or other infections are misdiagnosed with psychiatric illnesses or cognitive dysfunction, treatments often dont work. And in some cases, they can make symptoms worse. Without a correct diagnosis and the appropriate treatment, the infection persists, causing further injury to the brain.
This can eventually lead to trouble in all areas of your life, including decreased productivity at work, poor school performance, and problems with personal and interpersonal functioning. Without getting the right treatment, Lyme disease and other infections can steal your mind and steal your life.
For people who are not responding to treatment for their symptoms, it is very important to investigate whether an underlying infection may be contributing to the issue.
With A Better Brain Comes A Better Life
Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
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Who Has Lyme Disease
People who are active outdoors are more at risk for Lyme diseaseespecially when preventative measures to protect against tick bites arent utilized. Since children spend a lot of time outside, those between the age of 3 and 14 are at the greatest risk followed by people over 50, who enjoy hiking or other outdoor activities such as gardening or playing golf. Those who work outside in grassy areas or other known tick habitats are susceptible too, but anyone can get a tick biteeven in their own yard. There are an estimated427,000new cases of Lyme disease each year in the United States.
Neurological Lyme Disease Diagnosis And Treatment
Lyme disease is normally diagnosed basedon a combination of factors, such as symptoms, any physical signs, history oftick bites or potential exposure to infected ticks, and laboratory tests.
Patients with chronic neurological symptoms may benefit from a brain MRI scan and late-stage Lyme disease testing, such cerebrospinal fluid testing. These can help determine the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi. Brain scans may show lesions similar to the ones seen in multiple sclerosis. Spine lesions are also sometimes observed. Other diagnostic methods include neurocognitive tests, nerve conduction studies, and neuropsychological testing.
Chronic and neurological Lyme disease is the result ofweakened immunity, decreased cellular function and environmental and lifestylefactors. Therefore, treatment requires a holistic and personalized approach,addressing each cause separately, rather than focusing on specific symptoms.
Intravenous antibiotics are the main component ofstandard treatment for neuroborreliosis. Additional options to help boost theeffectiveness of antibiotics include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication,immune modulators, antiviral drugs, hormonal therapies, and nutritionalsupplements.
Patients are also often asked to consider making some lifestyle changes. For instance, an anti-inflammatory diet rich in leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, and fruits can help reduce the autoimmune effects of the illness.
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Infected Brains Work Differently
On brain SPECT scans, infections in the brain can appear as an overall pattern of significantly high or low blood flow. When these abnormal brain patterns are visible, it indicates a potentially infectious process at work. When we see evidence of infectious disease on SPECT scans, we investigate further with additional testing.
Lower Inflammation Cytokines And/or Quinolinic Acid
Curcumin is a component of turmeric that lowers both cytokines and quinolinic acid which improves brain fog. Take a liposomal form of curcumin to increase the absorption. Liposomal means that it is microscopically wrapped in fat to increase its absorption.
- Curcumin 500 mg 1 pill 3 times a day.
For more information about cytokines and additional supplements see Control Cytokines: A Guide to Fix Lyme Symptoms & The Immune System. For more information about curcumin see Curcumin.
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Stage : Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Timing: Months to years after a tick bite
The infection can spread to the joints or contribute to altered brain function, a condition known as encephalopathy.
Common symptoms of late disseminated Lyme disease include:
Arthritis with joint pain, warmth, and swelling that may be constant or come and go. Lyme disease-related arthritis typically occurs in one joint, usually the knee or another large joint, though it can also occur in more than one joint.
Concentration issues, brain fog, and memory issues
Nerve pain that feels like tingling, numbness, burning, or stabbing in the hands and feet
Anxiety, depression, mood swings, and other neuropsychiatric issues
Sleep disturbances such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, need for extended sleep, or unrefreshing sleep.
You may also experience a worsening of earlier Lyme disease symptoms.
In some people, Lyme disease can cause debilitating fatigue and sleep disturbances . Lyme disease-related arthritis typically occurs in a large joint like the knee .
Does Lyme Disease Affect The Brain And Nervous System
Lyme disease affects the nervous system. This statement is both accurate and terrifying since, for many of us, damage to the brain is the most feared consequence of disease. However, when it comes to Lyme disease, much of this fear is misplaced. Lyme disease can affect the lining of the brain, a disorder known as meningitis. Other than causing fever and bad headaches, this form of meningitis is remarkably benign nobody has ever died of it, and it has rarely if ever caused significant damage to any patients brain. On extremely rare occasions, the infection can involve the brain or spinal cord, disorders that are now extraordinarily rare. Other patients can develop inflammation of various nerves, e.g., the nerves that control the muscles on one side of the face this might occur in about 5% of untreated individuals. Other nerves can be affected, but even less frequently.
When considering these disorders, it is essential to recognize some key facts. First, the infection is highly responsive to antibiotics. Second, if the facial nerve has been severely damaged, there may be some residual weakness after treatment. However it is extraordinarily rare for there to be any permanent damage to the brain itself.
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