How To Diagnose Lyme Disease
The diagnosis of Lyme disease is not easy. Infection-carrying ticks are fewer in number, and their bites are usually not painful. This makes it difficult for the patients to recollect being bitten by the ticks. Furthermore, most of the symptoms are shared by different disorders.
- If you locate a tick in your skin, you should remove it immediately with tweezers making sure the entire tick is extracted.
- Wait a few days to see if any symptoms appear. If they do, you must contact your primary care physician and discuss your symptoms.
- Seek immediate medical attention if you have been ill for four weeks or longer. The doctor will examine the bite, search for a rash, and order blood tests to determine the presence of Lyme disease.
Special testing may be required for those who have joint swelling or nervous system disorders. The doctor may need to draw fluid from the swollen joint or the spine to look for signs of the illness.
However, these are not always required to make a diagnosis. They frequently produce false findings, particularly in early-stage Lyme disease.
What Is Late Lyme Disease
Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is caused by an infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is disseminated through tick bites. Infected ticks usually bite small mammals, who do not develop any kind of infection from the bacteria. When humans are exposed to B. Burgdorferi from a tick bite, however, they can develop Lyme disease.
People who work outside or spend time in woodland areas, where there is greater potential for exposure to tick bites, are most at risk of infection.
Lyme disease is a condition which progresses in stages:
Learn The Stages Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease occurs in three stages: early localized, early disseminated and late disseminated. However the stages can overlap and not all patients go through all three. A bulls-eye rash is usually considered one of the first signs of infection, but many people develop a different kind of rash or none at all. In most cases, Lyme symptoms can start with a flu-like illness. If untreated, the symptoms can continue to worsen and turn into a long-lived debilitating illness.
Stage 1: Early Localized Disease
Symptoms with early localized Lyme disease may begin hours, a few days or even weeks after a tick bite. At this point, the
infection has not yet spread throughout the body. Lyme is the easiest to cure at this stage.
Symptoms may include:
- skin rash, which may or may not look like a bulls eye
- flu-like illness, including chills and fever
- muscle soreness and joint pain
- swollen lymph nodes
- sore throat
Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme
Early disseminated Lyme may occur several weeks or months after the tick bite. Bacteria are beginning to spread throughout the body. In addition to flu-like symptoms, this stage is often characterized by increase in symptoms such as:
- pain, weakness or numbness in the arms, legs
- vision changes
- heart problems, such as palpitations, chest pain
- rash may appear on body
- facial paralysis
Stage 3: Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
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A Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease
First, a review of your medical history, including reports of bites of infected or living in an endemic area, is necessary to diagnose Lyme disease.
In addition, your health professional will conduct a physical examination to look for a rash or even other symptoms that could indicate the presence of Lyme disease.
Testing in the early stages of a localized infection is not advised.
Antibodies are present in the blood a few days after the incident infection, making blood tests more accurate. There are a few tests that your doctor may order:
Immunoassays against B. burgdorferi are detected using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay .
This test is used to verify ELISA results. In addition, antibodies against particular B. burgdorferi proteins are looked for.
PCR is a test used to determine if a person has Lyme arthritis or neurological symptoms that have persisted over time. Joint fluid or cerebral spinal fluid can be used in the procedure . Testing CSF for Lyme disease symptoms with PCR is not recommended because of its inaccuracies. A negative result does not rule out the possibility of the illness. Most people will still have positive PCR outcomes in joint fluid before antimicrobial prophylaxis.
What Is The Outlook For Someone With Lyme Disease
Most of the people who get Lyme disease and treated early will be fine.
Even after proper treatment, some patients may experience lingering fatigue, achiness or headaches. This does not signify ongoing infection and will not respond to additional antibiotics. The majority of people in this group will have symptoms resolve over the next 1-6 months.
Chronic Lyme Syndrome
Chronic Lyme syndrome is a term used by some that includes the symptoms of Post-Lyme syndrome outlined above. This is a controversial topic with no accepted etiology and no proven cause or association.
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Stage : Localized Illness In Its Early Stages
In most cases, Lyme disease symptoms begin within one to two weeks of a tick bite. Therefore, this rash is one of the most common early indicators of the illness.
There is a red patch in the center of the tick bite. A blood transfusion or sexual intercourse may transfer Lyme disease surrounded by a clear area with an area of redness at the edge. However, it isnt painful or irritating to touch, and it doesnt cause an itch. Most peoples rash will go away on its own in a few days or weeks.
Rashes like this one are called erythema migrans. Symptoms of Erythema Migrans, a common symptom of Lyme disease, have been documented. However, this symptom is absent in a large number of persons.
While some people get a solid red rash, dark-skinned folks may have one that looks like a bruise.
Symptoms of a viral or flu-like illness arent always associated with the rash.
Transmission Of Bb Via Ixodes Spp Vectors
The black-legged ticks, Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus on the West Coast, are the primary vectors of Bb in the USA. In endemic areas, the proportion of Ixodes spp. ticks infected with Bb can be remarkably high. One recent survey of the pathogen burden of 197 Ixodes scapularis ticks collected from New York and Connecticut where LD is endemic, revealed 111 ticks were infected with Bb and 37 were co-infected with more than one human pathogen . The high pathogen burden is consistent with previous tick surveys in the same region . In contrast, the percent of infected ticks in other regions of the USA is much lower. In recently published surveys across California, for example, fewer than 5% of Ixodes spp. ticks were infected . Ixodes ticks sometimes carry multiple strains of Bb that may impact the course of disease in people that are co-infected. One tick survey showed that 39% of Ixodes ticks in North America are infected with multiple genotypes of Bb .
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Outlook For Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
If you receive a diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics at this stage, you can expect to be cured of Lyme disease. Without treatment, complications can occur. Treatments are available for the complications.
In rare cases, you may experience a continuation of Lyme disease symptoms after antibiotic treatment. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome .
Some people who were treated for Lyme disease report muscle and joint pain, cognitive difficulties, sleep issues, or fatigue after their treatments were finished.
The cause of this is unknown. However, researchers believe it may be due to an autoimmune response in which your immune system attacks healthy tissues. It may also be linked to an ongoing infection with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
The practices below can reduce your likelihood of contracting Lyme disease and having it progress to the early disseminated stage.
Lyme Disease Treatment: Medications Antibiotics Recovery
Stage 3: Late Disseminated Lyme Disease. Stage 3 of the symptoms of the Lyme disease that commonly called as the late disseminated Lyme disease are the symptoms whenever the stage 1 and stage 2 symptoms of Lyme disease is not treated well. The late disseminated Lyme disease could occurs weeks, months, or even years after the tick bite It is typically a symptom of Stage 2 Lyme disease, also known as Late Disseminated Lyme, when neurological, musculoskeletal, and cardiac symptoms are more common. However, it can crop up earlier and progress rapidly, and antibiotic treatment should be adjusted depending on the stage of the disease. Other Types of Lyme Carditi Most individuals with Lyme disease respond well to antibiotics and have full recovery. In a small percentage of individuals, symptoms may continue or recur, requiring additional antibiotic treatment. Varying degrees of permanent joint or nervous system damage may develop in individuals with late-stage Lyme disease Stage 2. Early disseminated disease with malaise, pain, and flu-like symptoms May affect the neurological, ocular, and musculoskeletal organs Duration 3 to 10 weeks. Early disseminated Lyme may occur several weeks or months after the tick bite as bacteria are beginning to spread throughout the body
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How Likely Are You To Get Lyme Disease In Your Area
Hiking increases your risk of contracting Lyme disease. This is due to the fact that ticks prefer brushy, heavily forested, or grassy areas where they can attach themselves to plants. Leaf litter and the sharp corners of woodlands are high-risk areas. The ticks, which are unable to fly or jump, latch onto animals and humans that come into contact with plants.
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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What Is Post Treatment Lyme Disease
Post Treatment Lyme Disease represents a research subset of patients who remain significantly ill 6 months or more following standard antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease. PTLD is characterized by a constellation of symptoms that includes severe fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbance, depression, and cognitive problems such as difficulty with short-term memory, speed of thinking, or multi-tasking. In the absence of a direct diagnostic biomarker blood test, PTLD has been difficult to define by physicians, and its existence has been controversial. However, our clinical research shows that meticulous patient evaluation when used alongside appropriate diagnostic testing can reliably identify patients with a history of previously treated Lyme disease who display the typical symptom patterns of PTLD.
History And Physical Examination
The clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease can be straightforward in patients with a history of tick exposure and the characteristic finding of an erythema migrans rash.12 The CDC has defined erythema migrans rash as an expanding red macule or papule that must reach at least 5 cm in size .11 According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines, erythema migrans rash is the only clinical manifestation sufficient to make the diagnosis of Lyme disease in the absence of laboratory confirmation.20 Although one study concluded that primary care physicians in a Lyme diseaseendemic area of France correctly identified erythema migrans in 72 percent of patients,22 the study was limited by lack of complete clinical information for the participants.
A number of conditions resemble erythema migrans however, the rapid and prolonged expansion of an erythematous lesion is unique to erythema migrans.11 Lesions most often occur at anatomic sites that are unusual for cellulitis and other conditions that mimic erythema migrans therefore, a complete skin examination should be performed before excluding erythema migrans.20
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Stage : Lyme Disease At Its Earliest Stages Of Dissemination
After a tick bite, early widespread Lyme disease can arise within a few weeks to a couple of months.
Youll feel ill, and rashes may occur in regions other than just the tick bite.
As the condition progresses, it becomes evident that the disease has spread throughout the body, affecting various organs.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- I found a tick embedded in my skin, but I cant get it out. What should I do?
- Ive been bitten by a tick. Do I need to be seen?
- Do I need a blood test to confirm Lyme disease?
- Which antibiotic is best for me?
- How long will I have to take the antibiotic?
- What tick or insect repellent should I use for me or my child?
- How long will the symptoms last?
- What should I do if I still dont feel well a long time after I was bitten?
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Why Are Antibiotics The First Line Of Treatment For Lyme Disease
The use of antibiotics is critical for treating Lyme disease. Without antibiotic treatment, the Lyme disease causing bacteria can evade the host immune system, disseminate through the blood stream, and persist in the body. Antibiotics go into the bacteria preferentially and either stop the multiplication of the bacteria or disrupt the cell wall of the bacteria and kill the bacteria . By stopping the growth or killing the bacteria the human host immune response is given a leg up to eradicate the residual infection. Without antibiotics, the infection in Lyme disease can evade the host immune system and more readily persist.
Lyme Disease: More Common And More Dangerous Than You Think
Lyme disease outbreaks are already being reported this spring, and experts say theres a long way to go before we grasp the scope and impact of this serious tick-borne illness.
In the early 1990s, Dr. Neil Spector began experiencing odd symptoms.
At times, his heart would beat 200 times a minute. He also suffered crippling fatigue and had brain fog so intense he once gave a lecture and had no recollection of it.
Blood tests showed his body was producing high levels of antibodies, but specialists couldnt determine what was triggering his immune systems response.
It said my body was mounting a defense against something, Spector told Healthline. They just kept chalking it up to stress.
More symptoms began appearing slow heartbeat, arthritis pain, and burning in his heels but experts dismissed Spectors theory that they could be signs of Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne infection in humans.
Spectors symptoms began right after he moved from Boston to Miami, but Lyme disease is uncommon in Florida. Spector said he doesnt remember ever having the trademark bulls-eye rash of Lyme disease.
Spector, an associate professor of oncology at the Duke University School of Medicine, had no formal training in Lyme disease, but that changed as he searched for an explanation for his symptoms.
I dont think I have Lyme disease anymore, but the damage to my heart was already done by the time I was diagnosed, he said.
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Living With Lyme Disease
Most people treated in the early stages of Lyme disease make a quick and complete recovery. Some may experience symptoms for a few weeks after treatment. If you were treated for Lyme disease but you still dont feel well, call your family doctor. He or she can make sure there isnt something else wrong. They can help you find ways to ease your symptoms. Some patients have found relief with treatments typically used for chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.
Other things you can do to help manage Lyme disease include:
- Educate yourself.There is a lot of inaccurate information to be sorted through, especially on the internet. Ask your doctor if you have questions.
- Track your symptoms.Keep a diary of your sleep patterns, eating habits, exercise routines, and how youre feeling. You or your doctor may be able to make connections between them.
- Take care of yourself.Eat a healthy diet. Exercise as regularly as you can. Get plenty of rest.
Find support. It can be hard to not feel well and not know why. Some people may think your symptoms arent real. Talk to friends and family. If they cant offer support, talk with a counselor who can help you.