Get Tested And Treated Early
Studies acknowledge that up to 30% of patients go on to suffer further Lyme symptoms even after treatment, sometimes called Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome . One of the biggest risk factors for this condition is delayed treatment.
Research is finally, if slowly, catching up to the reality that letting Lyme disease slip through the cracks of insufficient diagnostic testing causes real suffering for patients. IGeneX is at the forefront of solving this problem, offering more sensitive and accurate testing for Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases that can cause mental health problems when left untreated. Learn more today.
What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. This spiral shaped bacterium is most commonly spread by a tick bite. The disease takes its name from Lyme, Connecticut. This is where the illness was first identified in the United States in 1975.
Although Lyme disease is a year-round problem, April through October is considered tick season. Cases of Lyme disease have been reported in nearly all states in the U.S. and in large areas in Europe and Asia, but the most common areas are the Northeast, upper Midwest and northwestern states.
Lyme Disease Effects On The Brain
The first section of Lyme Brain discusses the fundamentals. What actually causes this condition? Research has shown that Lyme spirochetes can invade the brain and wreak all kinds of havoc. They damage nerve cells, trigger inflammation, release neurotoxins, and disrupt the balance of brain chemicals.
Ducharme lays all this out in plain language. She also explains how co-infections contribute to Lyme disease brain:
One of the reasons I believe that the actual brain fog, memory issues and difficulty with focus and concentration is Borrelia driven is because when I treat my patients with medications that primarily impact Borrelia and cross the blood-brain barrier, I see these symptoms improve, whereas the insomnia and wacky dreams tend to respond more to Babesia treatment. Really extreme psychiatric symptoms such as rages, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, respond mostly to Bartonella treatment.
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Neurological Symptoms From Late
If Lyme disease or associated infections are not adequately treated or go untreated, the persistence of the bacteria, and the inflammation from the immune response, can affect nerve function leading to a myriad of neurological symptoms. One study indicated it took an average of a year and a half following a tick bite for symptoms to manifest in the peripheral nervous system and two years to the onset of symptoms in the central nervous system . The significant length of time from bacterial exposure to onset of symptoms creates a challenge in associating Lyme disease as the cause of chronic neurological symptoms.
Neuropathy is a general term for disease of the nerves.
Polyneuropathy refers to multiple nerves involved in the pathology. In late-stage Lyme disease, polyneuropathy typically manifests as numbness, tingling or burning and can include any nerve but most commonly begins in the hands/arms and feet/legs. Less frequently, chronic neuropathy can lead to radicular pain.
Encephalopathy refers to generalized brain dysfunction
Making Connections To Clarify Diagnosis
Chronic Lyme disease shares many symptoms with other chronic illnesses. This is especially true of Lyme neuroborreliosis and chronic neuroinflammatory illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimers disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis , Parkinsons disease, and traumatic brain injury.
Not surprisingly, new sophisticated methods of microbial detection are showing potential links between these neuroinflammatory illnesses and many of the microbes associated with chronic Lyme disease.
For instance, both mycoplasma and chlamydia have been closely linked to multiple sclerosis. Mycoplasma, borrelia, and chlamydia have been associated with demyelination. Parkinsons and ALS have been linked to borrelia and other microbes commonly associated with Lyme disease. Borrelia and other stealth pathogens have been found in the brains of patients who died of Alzheimers disease.
The connections go well beyond Lyme disease microbes. Two recent studies are shedding new light on how closely disruptions in the microbiome are linked to neuroinflammation. One, published in Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience, evaluated the presence of microbes in the autopsied brains of deceased Alzheimers patients. The other, published in Scientific Reports, evaluated the presence of microbes in the autopsied brains of people who had died of multiple sclerosis.
So what does restore well-being? Therapy that comprehensively addresses chronic immune dysfunction and widespread disruption of the microbiome.
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Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
People aren’t able to become immune to Lyme disease. So even if you’ve had Lyme disease, you can get it again. No vaccine is available currently to prevent the disease.
The FDA approved a Lyme vaccine called LYMErix in 1998. The vaccine was not 100% effective, however. The FDA still recommended preventing the disease in other ways. In 2002, the company that made LYMErix said it would no longer offer the vaccine.
To help prevent Lyme disease, follow these guidelines.
The Role Of Coinfections
Ticks carry more diseases than just Lyme and TBRF, and its not uncommon for patients to be infected with more than one type of disease-causing bacteria.
Common coinfections such as Babesiosis and Bartonellosis can not only cause neurological and psychiatric symptoms of their own, but they can also complicate the diagnostic process, delaying proper diagnosis and treatment all of which increase the risk of developing emotional, behavioral, or cognitive problems from the infection.
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Achy Stiff Or Swollen Joints
Joint pain and stiffness, often intermittent, are early Lyme symptoms. Your joints may be inflamed, warm to the touch, painful, and swollen. You may have stiffness and limited range of motion in some joints .
Pain may move around. Sometimes your knees may hurt, whereas other times its your neck or your heels. You may also have bursitis . Bursae are the thin cushions between bone and surrounding tissue.
The pain may be severe, and it may be transitory. More than one joint may be affected. Most often the large joints are involved .
People often attribute joint problems to age, genetics, or sports. Lyme should be added to that list, as these statistics indicate:
- One study estimates that 80 percent of people with untreated Lyme have muscle and joint symptoms .
- Fifty percent of people with untreated Lyme have intermittent episodes of arthritis .
- Two-thirds of people have their first episode of joint pain within six months of the infection .
- Use of anti-inflammatory drugs may mask the actual number of people with joint swelling .
Joint pain that comes and goes, or moves from joint to joint, could be a sign of Lyme.
What Lyme Disease Does To Your Brain
is a bacterial infection that you catch when an infected deer tick bites you. The first symptoms can appear within a few days or weeks. They include a target-shaped , , fever, , , and . Often, doctors promptly recognize and treat Lyme disease with antibiotics. But when treatment is delayed, the infection can spread to other areas, including the nerves, liver and eyes. It can also spread to the central nervous systemthe brain and spinal cordand cause the following problems.
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What Are Signs And Symptoms Of The Third Stage Of Lyme Disease
Late stage Lyme disease can result when treatment is unsuccessful or started too late due to unrecognized symptoms or misdiagnosis. The late disseminated stage occurs months or years after initial infection and can have a major impact on a patients health and quality of life. Late Lyme arthritis is a third stage Lyme disease manifestation that involves fluid accumulation and pain in joints, particularly in the knee joints. Late neurologic disease is a 3rd stage condition that can also be debilitating and difficult to diagnose. Late disseminated Lyme disease symptoms include a variety of symptoms that are often neurologic in origin including: numbness in extremities, mental fogginess and concentration problems, and difficulty following conversations or processing information.
Chronic Lyme Disease Vs Post
Patients typically use the term chronic Lyme disease to describe the cluster of symptoms that started after getting Lyme disease and that persist despite having received a course of antibiotic treatment which has been deemed curative by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Patients say, “I’m not cured. I have symptoms now that I never had before Lyme disease. I’m fatigued 90% of the day. My muscles ache. My brain is in a fog. I can’t think clearly any more. I’m super sensitive to light and sound. What is going on? Chronic Lyme disease does exist – I’m a living example of it!”
Whatever one calls it, the experience is the same. Most often these patients experience profound fatigue, pain, and/or cognitive impairment. Mild to moderate levels of depression and anxiety may also accompany these symptoms, as the functional limitations can lead to social isolation, inability to work, and loss of sense of one’s identity as a provider, caretaker, or friend. Sometimes patients find themselves identifying with Job – the just and good man in the Bible whose life was wrecked by illness, death of loved ones, and economic disaster he felt tormented by God.
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Resources On Managing Lyme Disease
If you are looking for more information on lyme disease or have a specific question, our information specialists are available business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9am to 8pm ET.
Additionally, we encourage you to reach out to Lyme disease support groups and nonprofits, including:
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Stage 3 Lyme Disease
Late or chronic Lyme disease refers to manifestations that occur months to years after the initial infection, sometimes after a period of latency. Signs and symptoms of chronic Lyme disease are primarily rheumatologic and neurologic. Acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans, the cutaneous feature of late-stage Lyme disease, is found almost exclusively in European patients.
Most patients presenting with late disease do not have a history of erythema migrans, because the rash typically leads to earlier treatment, which prevents the development of late disease. However, other manifestations of the disease may coexist or may have occurred in the past. Thus, a history of Bell palsy, aseptic meningitis, arthritis, acral paresthesias or dysesthesias , or cognitive dysfunction may be diagnostically useful.
Maladaptive host responses can lead to a variety of syndromes in stage 3, as follows :
- Postinfectious Lyme arthritis Massive inflammatory synovial proliferation, usually in a knee
- Posttreatment Lyme disease syndrome Pain, neurocognitive impairment, fatigue
- Autoimmune joint disease Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or peripheral spondyloarthropathy
- Autoimmune neurologic disease Chronic idiopathic demyelinating polyneuropathy
Lyme arthritis is the hallmark of stage 3 Lyme disease. It tends to involve large joints . Arthritis must be differentiated from arthralgia, which is common in early disease.
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Neurological Lyme Disease: What You Need To Know
Lyme disease can manifest in a seemingly endless number of ways. While the spectrum of symptoms is similar for most sufferers, the worst of the bunch varies from person to person. And for those who have a predominance of neurological symptoms, the disease can feel especially debilitating and difficult to overcome.
Thats in large part because neurological Lyme also referred to as Lyme neuroborreliosis is often confused with other serious neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinsons Disease, which can be scary and overwhelming. And because most doctors lack an understanding of Lyme disease in general, and especially of Lyme associated with a predominance of neurological symptoms, LNB often goes unrecognized.
So how to know if the symptoms youre experiencing do signify LNB, and where do you go from there to find relief? Keep reading for information that could provide the turning point in your recovery.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
How old you are
Lyme disease in the earliest stage is usually treated with antibiotics for 2 to 3 weeks.
Treatment will also be considered based on these and other factors:
If you are bitten by a tick that tests positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease
If you are bitten by a tick and have any of the symptoms
If you are bitten by a tick and are pregnant
If you are bitten by a tick and live in a high-risk area
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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.
Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
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Lyme disease is an underreported, under-researched, and often debilitating disease transmitted by spirochete bacteria. The spiral-shaped bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, are transmitted by blacklegged deer ticks. Lymes wide range of symptoms mimic those of many other ailments, making it difficult to diagnose .
The blacklegged ticks can also transmit other disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These are known as coinfections . These ticks that transmit Lyme are increasing their geographical spread. As of 2016, they were found in about half the counties in 43 of 50 states in the United States .
Lyme is the fifth most reported of notifiable diseases in the United States, with an estimated 329,000 new cases found annually . Some studies estimate that there are as many as 1 million cases of Lyme in the United States every year .
Most people with Lyme who are treated right away with three weeks of antibiotics have a good prognosis.
But if youre not treated for weeks, months, or even years after infection, Lyme becomes more difficult to treat. Within days of the bite, the bacteria can move to your central nervous system, muscles and joints, eyes, and heart .
Here is a list of 13 common signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.
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How To Recover From Neurological Lyme
When youre suffering from debilitating symptoms of neurological Lyme, its tempting to seek out medications that promise fast relief. Unfortunately, the place for drug therapy in chronic neuroinflammatory illnesses is limited. In fact, because neuroinflammation is so complex, targeted synthetic drug therapy often disrupts the healing process.
Many medications suppress or disrupt immune system functions and inhibit deep sleep, which is absolutely essential for recovery. Anti-inflammatory drugs, including steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents like ibuprofen and naproxen, disrupt immune functions and inhibit healing.
These drugs have also been shown to inhibit clearance of beta amyloid, a proteinaceous substance associated with neuroinflammatory disorders that is the hallmark identifying factor of Alzheimers disease. Though short-term use of antibiotic therapy has shown limited benefit in some cases of dementia and MS, tolerance to therapy and relapse are inevitable with long term use of synthetic antibiotics.
Instead, to overcome Lyme neuroborreliosis, you must approach it like you would another neuroinflammatory condition. The key components of recovery from any type of neuroinflammatory condition include:
What Should You Do If You Find A Tick
Don’t touch the tick with your bare hand.
Use a pair of tweezers to remove the tick. Grab the tick firmly by its mouth or head as close to your skin as possible.
Pull up slowly and steadily without twisting until it lets go. Don’t squeeze the tick, and don’t use petroleum jelly, solvents, knives, or a lit match to kill the tick.
Save the tick. Place it in a plastic container or bag so it can be tested for disease, if needed.
Wash the bite area well with soap and water and put an antiseptic lotion or cream on the site.
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Key Points For Healthcare Providers
Unexplained Pain And Other Sensations
Some people with Lyme may have sharp rib and chest pains that send them to the emergency room, suspecting a heart problem 00090-7/abstract%20″ rel=”nofollow”> 27).
When no problem is found, after the usual testing, the ER diagnosis is noted as an unidentified musculoskeletal cause.
You can also have strange sensations like skin tingling or crawling, or numbness or itchiness 00090-7/abstract%20″ rel=”nofollow”> 27).
Other symptoms have to do with cranial nerves.
- Ear-ringing . Tinnitus can be a nuisance, especially at bedtime when it seems to get louder as youre trying to fall asleep. About 10 percent of people with Lyme experience this (
- Hearing loss. One study reported that 15 percent of Lyme patients experienced loss of hearing .
- Jaw pain or toothaches that are not related to actual tooth decay or infection.
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