Is Lyme Disease Curable
Lyme disease is considered curable when people receive prompt antibiotic treatment for their symptoms. The sooner treatment begins, the speedier and fuller their recovery. Even people whose illness has progressed beyond the early Lyme disease stages often respond well to treatment.
The CDC endorses treatment guidelines developed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, which represents nearly 10,000 physicians and scientists specializing in infectious disease. However, not all clinicians agree on the best way to diagnose and treat Lyme disease.
Unfortunately, theres no blood test to confirm whether someone has fully recovered from Lyme disease. The antibodies that people produce to fight off the infection can remain in their blood for months or years after treatment, even though the bacteria that caused Lyme disease are long gone.And some patients report symptoms that linger after treatment, fueling controversy about the best approach to treating patients.
Patients with persistent symptoms may want to get tested for other tick-borne illnesses, such as anaplasmosis or babesiosis. The rate of such co-infections with Lyme disease varies by region.
Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms
Chronic Lyme disease often presents a wide range of symptoms which can mimic the symptoms of other conditions. Patients whose Lyme disease goes undiagnosed for months or even years, run the risk of developing chronic Lyme disease symptoms which may include arthritis, fatigue and anxiety.
When a person is first infected with the bacteria genusBorreila, usually from a deer tick or mosquito bite, the first sign is often the appearance of a bulls-eye skin rash. It can be large and expanding in size. This rash is called erythema migrans and can be accompanied by flu like symptoms such as joint pain, headache and fatigue. These all usually emerge within days or weeks. If the person is correctly diagnosed at this time, then Lyme disease can usually be effectively treated with a course of antibiotics and the chances of it progressing into chronic Lyme disease is greatly reduced.
What Causes Lyme Disease
Two types of bacteriaB. burgdorferi andB. mayoniicause Lyme disease in the United States.
B. burgdorferi was long considered the sole cause in the U.S.However, in 2016 scientists confirmed the existence of a second species, B. mayonii,linked to nausea and vomiting in addition to the other typical symptoms.
Lyme disease is spread through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick . Also known as the deer tick, it is responsible for spreading B. burgdorferi in the northeastern, north central, and mid-Atlantic regions, and B. mayonii in the upper Midwest.
Another species, the Western blacklegged tick , spreads B. burgdorferi on the Pacific coast. Ticks often become infected when they feed on small animals, such as mice. Nymphs are often the ones that infect humans, usually in the spring or summer months. Ticks can latch on to any part of the body but frequently hide in areas like the scalp, armpits, or groin.
Just because you have a tick bite doesnt mean you will get Lyme disease. It can take 36 to 48 hours for transmission to occur, according to the CDC.
The blacklegged tick has four stages of development. It begins life as an egg before hatching into a six-legged larva. Larvae molt into eight-legged nymphs, during which time they are no bigger than a poppy seed. Nymphs become adult ticks, which are about as big as sesame seeds.This type of tick is the primary carrier of Lyme disease.
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Lyme Disease Frequently Asked Questions
If you have not done so already, remove the tick with fine-tipped tweezers.
The chances that you might get Lyme disease from a single tick bite depend on the type of tick, where you acquired it, and how long it was attached to you. Many types of ticks bite people in the U.S., but only blacklegged ticks transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Furthermore, only blacklegged ticks in the highly endemic areas of the northeastern and north central U.S. are commonly infected. Finally, blacklegged ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease. This is why its so important to remove them promptly and to check your body daily for ticks if you live in an endemic area.
If you develop illness within a few weeks of a tick bite, see your health care provider right away. Common symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash, fever, body aches, facial paralysis, and arthritis. Ticks can also transmit other diseases, so its important to be alert for any illness that follows a tick bite.
Moody KD, Barthold SW, 1991. Relative infectivity of Borrelia burgdorferi in Lewis rats by various routes of inoculation.external iconAm J Trop Med Hyg 44: 135-9.
There are no reports of Lyme disease being spread to infants through breast milk. If you are diagnosed with Lyme disease and are also breastfeeding, make sure that your doctor knows this so that he or she can prescribe an antibiotic thats safe for use when breastfeeding.
Including Clinical Symptoms For The Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease
Laboratory testing for Lyme disease is known to have low sensitivity. Lyme specialty laboratories have improved testing methodologies to increase test sensitivity, but they still produce false-negative results. Furthermore, lab tests only provide objective information. Including subjective clinical symptoms improves the accuracy of diagnosis. For example, is there another significant lab result that explains the patients symptom picture?
An individualized approach is particularly significant when dealing with complex and poorly understood multisystem diseases. In opposition to this conservative and traditional approach , some have attempted to oversimplify the diagnosis of Lyme disease by reducing the diagnosis to reliance upon the U.S. CDC surveillance definition. However, the surveillance definition has never been intended to be a sole diagnostic criterion, particularly in late-stage disease.
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Diagnosis Testing And Treatment
You may have heard that the blood test for Lyme disease is correctly positive only 65% of the time or less. This is misleading information. As with serologic tests for other infectious diseases, the accuracy of the test depends upon how long youve been infected. During the first few weeks of infection, such as when a patient has an erythema migrans rash, the test is expected to be negative.
Several weeks after infection, FDA cleared tests have very good sensitivity.
It is possible for someone who was infected with Lyme disease to test negative because:
If you are pregnant and suspect you have contracted Lyme disease, contact your physician immediately.
- Report being bitten by a tick, or
- Live in, or have recently visited, a tick-infested area.
Symptoms Of Untreated Disseminated Lyme Disease
If left untreated, the bacteria will usually spread throughout the body in the weeks or months following the bite. This is known as disseminated Lyme or late Lyme disease. And it can lead to more serious symptoms.
The symptoms of disseminated Lyme are widespread, as the bacteria can affect multiple organs and systems in the body. A person with disseminated Lyme may notice additional rashes. These can occur anywhere in the body, not just at the initial bite.
Muscle and joint issues are also common in the later stages of untreated Lyme disease. Soreness or arthritis pain that comes and goes in the muscles and joints are common. Some may experience facial palsy, a weakness in the facial muscles that leads to drooping on one or both sides.
In disseminated or late Lyme disease, the bacteria can affect the heart, brain, and nervous system. People may experience heart palpitations, an irregular heartbeat, and shortness of breath.
Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord can occur. This can also lead to headaches and confusion, as well as numbness, tingling, and nerve pain.
The symptoms of disseminated Lyme disease can last for several months. The good news is that Lyme disease is treatable at any stage.
Dr. Jesus Alberto Cardenas-de la Garza et al. . Clinical spectrum of Lyme disease. European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases. Link
CDC. Lyme Disease: What you need to know. Link
CDC. Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. Link
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Screening And Assessment Forms To Help In The Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease
This studys results allowed the authors to establish assessment forms that can be used as tools by clinicians to aid in the diagnosis of Lyme disease. Most laboratory tests for Lyme disease have low sensitivity. This is particularly true for reference labs such as Quest and LabCorp and hospital-based laboratories. Specialty labs, such as Igenex, have developed better testing methodologies, which have improved the test sensitivity.
Using a screening questionnaire and assessment forms in a clinical evaluation for Lyme disease would increase a diagnosiss accuracy. A screening questionnaire and assessment forms developed from the data collected in this study can be found in the research paper. The individual symptoms evaluated in this study are not unique to Lyme disease, but the symptoms totality can help determine if the symptoms are caused by Lyme disease.
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
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Sensitivities To Light And Sound
One of the pioneers in Lyme disease research is Joseph J. Burrascano Jr., MD. In the early days of the disease, he came up with a checklist that doctors could use to diagnose itand it includes all of the above signs, as well as other previously observed symptoms like sensitivities to light and sound, muscle weakness, erectile dysfunction, and dental pain.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Symptoms of Lyme disease can be different from person to person.
Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease usually start 3 to 30 days after you have been bitten by an infected blacklegged tick. Most people experience mild flu-like symptoms soon after being bitten, while a small number may have more serious symptoms, sometimes weeks after the bite.
Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease may include:
- Rash, sometimes shaped like a bull’s eye )
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
If left untreated, more severe symptoms may occur and can last from months to years. Severe symptoms may include:
- Severe headaches
- Facial paralysis
- Intermittent muscle, joint, tendon and bone aches
- Heart disorders , known as Lyme carditis
- Neurological disorders
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and less commonly in other joints such as the ankle, elbow and wrists.
In rare cases, Lyme disease can lead to death usually because of complications involving infection of the heart.
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Could You Have Lyme Disease And Not Even Know It
The scary truth about this sneaky illness.
After you get home from a glorious summer hike, you probably do a few things: post photos of the great outdoors to Instagram, take a quick shower, and chow down on some post-workout snacks. But if checking yourself for ticks isn’t a part of that routine, you might be leaving yourself open to Lyme disease. “It happens frequently that people have Lyme disease and don’t know it,” says Andrea Gaito, M.D., a rheumatologist with a private practice in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by tick bites, especially those from deer ticks. Approximately 70 percent of deer ticks are infected, says Gaito. And those of you in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania should be on high-alert: Your states have the highest rates of Lyme disease, which is much more manageable when caught early on, says Gaito.
It sounds pretty scary, but there are ways to figure out if you’ve got Lyme disease before it really has its hooks in youor even prevent it in the first place. Here’s what to look out for.
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Is Lyme Disease Contagious
People cant catch Lyme disease from other people. Theres no evidence that kissing, touching, or having sex with someone who has Lyme disease puts you at risk of acquiring the illness, and there are no reports of transmission through breast milk or donated blood. However, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease can live in blood, so people currently being treated for the disease should not donate blood.
People cannot acquire Lyme disease from their dogs, either, although cuddling with your furry friend could expose you to ticks that landed on your pet.
Lyme disease is carried by infected ticks, specifically two species of blacklegged ticks. If you live in or visit an area of the country where these infected ticks are prevalent, its important to take measures to reduce your risk of getting bitten, especially in the spring and summer months.
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Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Symptoms of Lyme disease can vary from person to person and typically manifest in multiple systems in the body. Neuropsychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and brain fog are quite common in Lyme disease. In 2020, Lyme-literate psychiatrist Robert Bransfield, MD, and his team published their findings of Lyme diseases most common symptoms. The paper, titled A Clinical Diagnostic System for Late-Stage Neuropsychiatric Lyme Borreliosis Based upon an Analysis of 100 Patients, compared the frequency of symptoms of Lyme disease against four control groups. The results were remarkable.
Lyme Disease Symptoms 11 Early Signs & Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is one of the most common vector-borne diseases in the world, and the number one in the United States. A vector-borne disease is one transmitted through an insect bite, in this case, ticks infected with a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Most patients do not recall any tick bite, and they only display an array of signs and symptoms that we will describe in this article.
It is especially important to be attentive on these signs and symptoms if youre a pet owner, work with animals, or live near them, especially if you have found ticks walking around your house. In many cases, people get infected with Borrelia burgdorferi after traveling to the countryside or any other place with animals. Thus, if you encounter these signs and symptoms in yourself or any of your family members and suspect there is a possibility you may have Lymes disease, contact your doctor right away to perform relevant screening tests and start an early treatment.
The most relevant signs and symptoms of Lyme disease are as follows:
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Lyme Disease In Children
Children are just as prone to getting Lyme disease as anyone else. Depending on where they live and play and how much time they spend outdoors, kids may be at greater risk than many adults.
How do you know if your child has Lyme disease? Parents may suspect Lyme if the family lives in or visits an area where the disease is commonly found. Knowing or suspecting that your son or daughter has been exposed to ticks is another indicator. Contact your health provider if your child is experiencing symptoms, such as rash, fever, chills, fatigue, muscle or joint pain, or facial paralysis.
Children diagnosed with Lyme disease typically receive two to four weeks of antibiotics. Doxycycline or amoxicillin are usually the treatments of choice, unless children are under age eight or are allergic.
If a Lyme diagnosis is inconclusive, the doctor may order a blood test for antibodies to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
Legal Mandates To Cover Unproven Treatments
The state of Connecticut, meanwhile, enacted a law on June 18, 2009, “to allow a licensed physician to prescribe, administer or dispense long-term antibiotics for a therapeutic purpose to a patient clinically diagnosed with Lyme disease.” The states of Rhode Island, California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Maine, and Iowa have similar laws.
Massachusetts and Rhode Island have laws mandating insurance coverage for long-term antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease when deemed medically necessary by a physician. In 1999 Connecticut had passed a similar, though somewhat more restrictive law.
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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.