Neurological Symptoms Of Early Lyme Disease
The onset of neurological symptoms can occur between one week and two months following a tick bite. In this early stage of neurological involvement, common symptoms have emerged. Meningitis from the Borrelia bacteria will present with nausea/vomiting, mild to severe headaches and a stiff neck. Light sensitivity and fever may also occur. However, meningitis caused by Lyme disease may be less severe than other bacterial infections so may be misdiagnosed as viral meningitis.
Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, can cause confusion, sleepiness, mood swings, personality changes or hallucinations. When the cranial nerves are affected in early Lyme disease, facial nerve palsy can cause muscle weakness or paralysis on one or both sides of the face leading to facial drooping. Additional cranial nerve symptoms include difficulty with eye closure, moving lips and smiling, and wrinkling of the forehead. Vision and smell can also be affected by cranial nerve inflammation.
Treating Neurological Lyme Disease
Though neurological and psychiatric symptoms can be reduced with antibiotic treatment, emotional and cognitive problems arising from late-stage or chronic Lyme often call for a broader range of interventions. This includes lifestyle changes in such areas as diet, exercise, and environment.
Again, its worth reiterating that the longer an infection goes undetected, the harder it is to treat, and the more likely it is that symptoms will require multi-pronged, multi-system interventions besides antibiotics alone.
Can You Reverse Nerve Damage Caused By Lyme Disease
Only one tick bite can cause a debilitating disorder named Lyme disease.
Lyme affects the entire body and causes problems with your immune system and brain function. What is even more concerning is that the bacteria can lay dormant and still affect a patient long after being treated. This is the main reason why Lyme disease causes nerve damage.
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How Is It Treated
Facial palsy is treated with oral antibiotics and Lyme meningitis/radiculoneuritis can either be treated with oral or intravenous antibiotics, depending on severity . Most people with Lyme disease respond well to antibiotics and fully recover. Varying degrees of permanent nervous system damage may develop in people who do not receive treatment in the early stages of illness and who develop late-stage Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease Nerve Damage May Appear Years Later
BOSTON, NOV. 22 — Some victims of Lyme disease may suffer memory loss, mood changes, tingling sensations, shooting pains and other signs of nerve damage that strike years after the initial tick bite, the doctor who discovered the disease reported today.
Antibiotic therapy can often relieve these lingering symptoms, although recovery is seldom complete.
“This is similar to syphilis,” said Allen C. Steere. “Although the neurological symptoms and consequences are different, in both diseases there are long periods of latent infection in the brain followed by a variety of neurological disorders.”
Steere and two colleagues who studied the disease cautioned that only a few Lyme patients suffer this lingering nerve disorder, and most can be cured with antibiotics given early in their infections.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by tiny ticks that are usually carried by deer and mice. It is common throughout the Northeast, Midwest and California.
Usually the first sign of Lyme disease is a red circular rash around the tick bite. It is often accompanied by fever, fatigue, aches and other flu-like miseries. In more advanced stages, the disease can cause arthritis as well as the neurological problems.
Steere, who first recognized the disease in Old Lyme, Conn., about 15 years ago, was senior author of the new report, written with two colleagues at the New England Medical Center in Boston. It was published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine.
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How Does Lyme Affect The Nervous System
Borrelia, the spirochete that causes Lyme disease, can invade the nervous system, creating a condition called Lyme neuroborreliosis.
In the central nervous system, the infection can cause meningitis , and damage various nerves in the brain or brainstem. In the peripheral nervous system, the infection can result in pain that radiates along sensory nerves.
The exact reasons why some patients get better with treatment and other patients remain ill is unclear. The potential mechanisms may include permanent damage from infection, neuroinflammation, autoimmune reactions, or persistent infection.
As Professor Holly Ahern explains, the main problem with research into so-called PTLDS is the absence of an accurate blood test or biomarker. Researchers have no way to determine if persisting infection is the cause of the continuing symptoms.
Dr. Novak and his team set out to find objective measures. We know these patients are suffering. The next question is how do we treat them? says Novak.
The most valuable studies are those that give us a biomarker, something we can measure, so that when we treat them, we can look objectively to see if they get better or not.
Strategies For Managing Nerve Pain
1. Reduce Your Microbial Burden
When youre dealing with Lyme disease and co-infections, its not always easy to pinpoint which stealth pathogen is affecting your nervous system. In fact, its most reasonable to recognize that all sneaky microbes are capable of disrupting immune function and causing it to go awry.
When your bodys microbial burden becomes too great, your microbiome becomes imbalanced, driving inflammation and aggravating neuropathy. Thus, at the top of the priority list is decreasing the infectious load to normalize and calm the immune system.
When youre looking for natural solutions to lessen the impact of stealth pathogens, herbal therapy can play a critical role. Not only do herbs have antimicrobial properties, but they are anti-inflammatory and contain antioxidants as well.
Moreover, herbs dont disrupt the delicate balance of the microbiome like synthetics medications do. Some of my favorite herbs with antimicrobial and immunomodulating properties to keep in mind include:
2. Use Medications Cautiously
When it comes to neuropathy, the reality is that sometimes you need some extra support to get your pain levels to a tolerable level. There are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications that may be useful from time to time.
However, the value of medications is limited to short term management of symptoms because of cumulative side effects. The list of medications commonly recommended by healthcare providers includes:
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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 .
How To Diagnose Neuropathy
For most people, a diagnosis of neuropathy may be based upon a persons medical history, physical exam, lab work, and neurologic evaluation. The following tests can be useful to identify the condition, as well as rule out potential causes and contributing factors.
- Neurologic Exam: During a neurologic exam, your doctorusually a neurologistassesses reflexes ability to feel sensations like hot, cold, and pain coordination balance muscle strength and muscle tone.
- Blood Tests: Blood tests are run to assess nutritional deficiencies, organ function, toxins, and the presence of an atypical immune response.
- Electrodiagnostic Tests : EDX testing checks how well the muscles and nerves are functioning by measuring their electrical activity, which assists in determining the extent of nerve damage. Two commonly used procedures are electromyography and nerve conduction velocity . During an EMG, small needle electrodes are inserted through the skin into the muscle to measure the electrical activity while the muscle is at rest, during a mild contraction, and during a powerful contraction. Frequently, the NVC will be completed at the same time as the EMG, which helps further assess the amount and speed with which an electrical impulse moves through a nerve.
- Other Tests: The need for other testing will depend on the severity of your symptoms and could include specialized sensory testing, genetic testing, or a biopsy with tissue samples from a nerve, muscle, or skin.
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Peripheral Neuropathy In Lyme Disease Patients
Reported cases of Lyme disease have been rising steadily over the past 30 years, but its diagnosis can be challenging. Left untreated, patients with Lyme disease can go on to develop neurological symptoms, including those that are characteristic of peripheral neuropathy.
Francis Bean, DPM, has been experiencing neurological symptoms in his lower extremities for more than six months. When they arise, he feels a tingling in his hallux, his heels go numb, and he develops a hypersensitivity to temperature and touch that leads to a painful burning sensation. On paper, these sound like common symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathya condition with which Bean, as a podiatrist, is quite familiar.
But Bean doesnt have diabetes. His peripheral neuropathy developed as a result of Lyme disease, and in the US, hes one of a growing number of people with similar complications.
Lyme borreliosis, or Lyme disease, is a multisystem infectious disease caused in the US by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi , which is transmitted almost exclusively through tick bites.1,2 Though cases are concentrated primarily in limited geographic areas where the tick is endemic, Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne infection in the country, and reported cases of its occurrence have been rising steadily over the past 30 years.3,4
Neurological And Psychiatric Issues Associated With Lyme Disease And Tbrf
Chronic illness often has significant impacts on mental health, and Lyme disease is no different. With the accuracy and sensitivity of todays recommended Lyme testing still so lacking, many Lyme patients have to wait too long to get accurate diagnoses and treatment. To compound this problem, many patients with Lyme-like symptoms are not even tested for the similar, but biologically distinct, Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever . That gives infections time to spread throughout the body and cause neurological and psychiatric symptoms.
This article will outline the direct and indirect effects that Borreliosis both Lyme disease and TBRF can have on mental health, including how and why untreated Lyme can develop into neurological Lyme disease.
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Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
If you catch the tick before it burrows into your skin, its possible to prevent Lyme disease from taking hold. If the tick has broken through your skin, a red bulls-eye pattern will form around the bite. By the time you notice this pattern, you will likely need to undergo a round of antibiotics to combat the primary infection and attempt to prevent a series of secondary infections. Early detection and intervention are critically important in preventing a series of long-term Lyme Disease symptoms. Below is a list of conditions associated with Lyme disease as well as the stages at which they occur:
Can Lyme Disease Cause Neurological Problems
Lyme disease can wreak havoc on the entire body and every system within it, including the nervous system. The nervous system is a communication pathway that is made up of the brain and spinal cord. Another part, the peripheral nervous system, has nerves that extend to other parts of the body from the spine.
When this system becomes affected by Lyme disease, certain health issues can arise that affect more than just the brain the nervous system is, after all, essentially in charge of a persons movement, balance, senses, thought processes, and awareness. Unfortunately, the borrelia bacteria that causes Lyme also has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which means it can get directly into the brain and cause issues with neurological health.
The reason why the nervous system can be so strongly affected by Lyme disease is because the borrelia bacteria is able to travel through the bloodstream throughout the entire body. It makes its way to joints, tissues, and the nervous system, and camps out wherever it can to survive in its new host.
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Neurological Complications Of Lyme Disease
The NINDS supports research on Lyme disease. Current areas of interest include improving diagnostic tests and developing more effective treatments. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases , the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases , and the National Center for Research Resources , all parts of the National Institutes of Health , also support research on Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial organism that is transmitted to humans via the bite of an infected tick. Most people with Lyme disease develop a characteristic skin rash around the area of the bite. The rash may feel hot to the touch, and vary in size, shape, and color, but it will often have a bulls eye appearance . However, there are those who will not develop the rash, which can make Lyme disease hard to diagnose because its symptoms and signs mimic those of many other diseases.
Anywhere from 7 to 14 days following an infected ticks bite, the first stage of Lyme disease may begin with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain.
What Does Lyme Neuropathy Feel Like
Lyme neuropathy will present with different symptoms depending on what part of the nervous system is being attacked. For example, people may develop facial palsy when Lyme bacteria harm the cranial nerves. Facial palsy is characterized as a loss of muscle control in the face. People that have this symptom experience facial drooping.
People who have their peripheral nerves affected will experience other symptoms, such as:
- Numbness and tingling in the extremities
- Shooting, burning, or sharp pains
- Leg and arm weakness
- Loss of hand or foot coordination
- Pain that worsens at night
The involvement of the central nervous system will cause other symptoms to develop when a person has Lyme neuropathy, including:
These symptoms are collectively referred to as Lyme meningitis.
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Understanding Neurologic Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a condition that is carried by infected black-legged deer ticks. These ticks are usually found in wooded areas with tall grass. Ticks intended targets are deer and other woodland animals, but will just as easily attach themselves to hikers, hunters, and unsuspecting adventurers. Lyme disease cases are consistently on the rise and the CDC estimates that the current numbers, around 300,000 cases every year, are dramatically underreported.
Dr. Joseph Schneider, DC, DACNB head neurologist at the Hope Brain and Body Recovery Center utilizes state-of-the-art treatment methods and expertise to help patients suffering from Neurologic Lyme Disease. Our team understands how much of a burden Lyme Disease can be and want to help you manage your symptoms and restore your quality of life.
Lyme Disease Treatment & Therapy
For Bells palsy
- Eye drops for affected eye
- Medications such as steroids to reduce inflammation of nerve and decrease pain
- Treatment of underlying inflammatory condition, if present
If experiencing weakness, pain, or inflammation
- Ask your doctor about special therapeutic shoes or a knee brace
- Take safety measures to compensate for loss of sensation
- Lyme disease is curable, if treated early
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Pots Constipation And Lyme Disease
POTS stands for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome which means the heart rate will increase when someone changes position, from laying or sitting to standing. POTS is very common in late-stage Lyme disease since the autonomic nervous system does not maintain tone in blood vessels causing a drop in blood pressure. When the blood pressure drops, the heart rate has to increase to stabilize blood pressure. Mast cell activation syndrome is another common cause of POTS and MCAS is frequently seen as a consequence of Lyme disease.
Another common symptom associated with autonomic nervous system dysfunction is constipation. Termed gastroparesis, constipation can happen when the nerve that signals intestinal muscular contraction become damaged by the bacteria and the resulting immune response.
Pans/pandas And Lyme Disease
PANDAS an acronym for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections. It was first recognized in 1998 and characterized by a group of neurological symptoms following a strep infection. In PANDAS, the antibodies formed against strep also attack neuronal receptors in the brain leading to repetitive behavior, decreased concentration, decreased social engagement, aggression/rage, anxiety, insomnia, and phobias.
In the past 20 years since PANDAS was first recognized, other infections were identified as causing anti-neuronal antibodies that produce similar symptoms. In one study, 60% of patients with late-stage Lyme disease tested positive for anti-neuronal antibodies. Other published research has identified a protein on Borrelia that has a similar structure as strep, suggesting antibodies similar to strep can be triggered by Lyme disease and manifest similarly to PANDAS.
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Can Neuropathy Be Reversed
The good news regarding peripheral neuropathy is that peripheral nerve cells grow throughout a persons lifetime so there is always room for renewal of damage or dead cells.
Through clinical trials as well as ongoing treatment, many patients have reportedly felt good as new after early detection of neuropathy and time intervention were carried out. How reversible a particular neuropathic condition will also depend on if the neuropathy is acquiredwhether it is hereditary or idiopathic.
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