Lyme Controversial From The Start
In autumn 1975, Polly Murray, an artist and mother of four in Lyme, reported to the state health department that she and her children were suffering from mysterious maladies, including stiff and swollen knees and rashes. And neighboring children were having similar hard-to-explain symptoms.
Physicians diagnosed the children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Another mother from the area, Judith Mensch, also contacted the state health department. Finally, the cluster aroused the attention of the Connecticut public health authorities. Yale Universitys Dr. Allen Steere, who was still a rheumatologist-in-training, began searching for a cause.
The following year, Steere told the Journal of the American Medical Association, that he strongly suspected the illness came from some type of infection.
In the early 1980s, Willy Burgdorfer, a medical entomologist at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, identified the bacterium that caused the mysterious affliction. It was named Borrelia burgdorferi after him.
Robert A. Aronowitz, a medical historian at the University of Pennsylvania, said the divide between mainstream medicine and Lyme patient advocates started early with Polly Murray herself. He noted that Murray created local Lyme support groups starting in the 1980s that began to position themselves in opposition to the leading Lyme disease physicians and scientists and their view of the disease.
When A Lyme Diagnosis Is Tricky
There are several reasons it can be hard to diagnose Lyme disease.
Tests are less accurate for a short period of time after you first become infected. Thats because Lyme tests look for proteins created by your immune system to help you fight off infection , rather than for the infection itself, and it can take a few weeks for your body to make enough antibodies to cause a positive test.
The only sure sign of Lyme disease is an erythema migrans rash, which often has a bullseye shape. But up to 30% of people who get Lyme disease never get a rash. It is also possible that a person may not notice a rash before it goes away.
Symptoms of Lyme disease like fever and body aches can also be caused by other illnesses. This may result in Lyme diagnoses being missed because symptoms are attributed to another illness.
Using todays tests, it is difficult to distinguish between an old Lyme disease infection and a new one.
Thats why Lyme disease cases may be missed, and as many as 40% of Lyme disease cases are not diagnosed until a later stage of the disease. By that time, Lyme disease is harder to treat, and long-term complications are more likely, so an early, accurate diagnosis is very important.
Available Treatments For Lyme Disease
Antibiotics are the most common Lyme disease treatment because they help the patient experience a faster recovery compared to most other treatments. The treatment regimen prescribed by your doctor may include either oral antibiotics or intravenous antibiotics.Oral antibiotics may be given to someone within 72 hours of being bitten by an infected deer tick. These medications are doxycycline, amoxicillin, and cefuroxime. Treatment regimens may last anywhere between 10 and 28 days depending on factors such as the choice of drug, symptoms, and the stage of Lyme disease.
Intravenous antibiotics may be administered if Lyme disease has started affecting the central nervous system. Treatment using intravenous antibiotics can last anywhere between 14 and 28 days potential side effects include diarrhea and a lower white blood cell count.Lyme disease can also be treated using a range of alternative therapies, though many of these methods are not proven or approved by the FDA. For instance, essential oils including oregano, cinnamon bark, and clove bud are found effective at killing Borrelia burgdorferi without regrowth. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is considered to be effective at treating chronic Lyme disease in patients who dont respond to treatment with antibiotics.
UV light therapy, nutritional supplementation, and photon therapy are other alternative Lyme disease treatments however, many of these treatments lack scientific research to back their effectiveness.
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Do I Need A Lyme Disease Test
Your doctor will consider whether your symptoms and risk factors suggest Lyme disease when deciding whether you need a Lyme test. Laboratory tests can support a clinical diagnosis, but should not be used on their own to confirm or rule out a current Lyme disease diagnosis.
Your doctor may also do tests to see if other conditions with similar or overlapping symptoms for example, thyroid disease, autoimmune disease, or other tick-borne diseases could be causing your symptoms. If you have been traveling, your doctor might test you for species of Borrelia that cause Lyme disease in other parts of the world.
If you think you may have Lyme disease, but your doctor hasnt considered it or has ruled it out before testing you for it, heres how you can start a conversation: Give your doctor a list of Lyme disease symptoms and risk factors , and ask them if, given your own symptoms and risk factors, Lyme disease could be a possible cause and whether you should be tested.
In some cases, a Lyme test may not be helpful. Using todays tests it is difficult to distinguish between current and previous infections, so if you were previously diagnosed with Lyme disease and may have been re-infected, your doctor should make the diagnosis based on your symptoms and risk factors.
How Do I Know Whether I Have Received A Sufficiently Long Course Of Antibiotic Therapy
Taken together, these study results suggest that repeated antibiotic therapy may be beneficial for a subgroup of patients. However all of these studies also reported troubling adverse effects associated with the IV antibiotic therapy. Given these potentially dangerous risks, it is clear that other safer and more durable treatments are needed for patients with persistent symptoms.
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What Is The Treatment
Most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated with 2 to 4 weeks of antibiotics. Depending on the symptoms and when you were diagnosed, you may require a longer course or repeat treatment with antibiotics.
Some people experience symptoms that continue more than 6 months after treatment. Research continues into the causes of these persistent symptoms and possible treatment methods.
Diagnosing & Treating Lyme Disease Online
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is transmitted to humans when they are bitten by an infected blacklegged tick aka the deer or bear tick. Since these ticks are so small, it can be difficult to know when you have a tick on you or if you have been bitten. If you have been bitten, you will typically produce symptoms of fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash in the shape of a bulls-eye. This bulls-eye shaped rash is also known as erythema migrans.
The rash can gradually grow over a period of days. Sometimes, the rash can grow to about 12 inches across! The rash may be warm to touch, but rarely itches or is painful. If there is a chance you have been exposed to ticks recently, it is important to check your body for the creepy crawlers because you might not be able to feel the reaction.
The chances of getting Lyme disease from a tick bite will depend on the following:
- The kind of tick
- Where you were when the bite occurred
- How long the tick was attached to you
These ticks will have to be attached to you for at least 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease. If Lyme disease is left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, the heart and the nervous system.
Options for treatment of Lyme disease may include:
- A prescription of antibiotics
- A prescription for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories
- A referral to a specialist
- Where a bloodwork test may be administered
Lyme disease symptoms can vary, but patients typically experience:
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Request Your Consultation Today
If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the aforementioned symptoms, and have been unsuccessful in finding effective treatment or lasting relief, Dr. Heyman treats patients at his integrative medicine practice: the Virginia Center for Health and Wellness in Aldie, Virginia. For an appointment with Dr. Heyman, please call & phone , or contact us online today.
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Contact The Medical Detectives At Bock Integrative Medicine
and take the first step in restoring normalcy to your or your loved ones life.
Find out how the board-certified experts at Bock Integrative Medicine can help determine the true cause of your chronic symptoms. Call or email to set up an appointment for a consultation.
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Is There Such A Thing As Chronic Lyme Disease
Chronic Lyme disease is considered controversial. Patients who are finally diagnosed with CLD are often discouraged, to say the least, with the medical community. It often takes years to be diagnosed, and that is if they run across a Lyme-literate doctor. With Google at peoples fingertips, more patients are being diagnosed and treated than ever before. But the controversy keeps escalating. Many traditional doctors do not believe in CLD. And, if they do, they frown upon long-term antibiotic therapy. This is where Dr. Dane agrees with the more widespread medical community.
Knowing that spirochete populations can cause nerve damage in the body, the question that must be asked is, Can Lyme disease lead to brain disorders? The simple answer is a resounding yes. Some research suggests links between Lyme disease and Parkinsons, multiple sclerosis, autism, dementia, and a range of other psychiatric conditions.
What Is The Outlook For People With Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain is difficult to treat completely but is usually not life-threatening. Youll get the best results from combining rehabilitation with support for your emotional, social and mental wellbeing. You will be able to manage your pain to a level that improves your quality of life with the help of a pain specialist in using some or most of the methods mentioned above.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/07/2020.
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How Lyme Disease Is Spread
Lyme disease is spread through a bite from a blacklegged tick that is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. This type of tick is specifically found in the following areas:
- Northeast and mid-Atlantic, from Virginia to Maine
- North central states, mostly Wisconsin and Minnesota
- West Coast, particularly in northern California
These types of ticks are found most often in wooded and grassy areas. Staying away from these areas can help keep your pet safe from harm, but there are other ways to prevent Lyme disease in your pet. Vaccinations are available to help build your pets immunity, and some flea & tick treatments can protect them from infections. There are various species-specific tick treatments, and they may also vary in how they are administered. Our team can help you identify which option would be right for your pet.
About How You Can Catch Lyme Disease
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The Different Types Of Doctors Who Can Test For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a tick-borne infectious disease caused by a group of spiral-shaped bacteria we now refer to as Lyme borreliae. This includes, but is not limited to, Borrelia burgdorferi. It is treatable with antibiotics, but in order to have the best chance at full recovery, its crucial to get your disease diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. That means finding the right doctor.
But what kind of doctor tests for Lyme disease? You may be wondering if you need to see a specific kind of physician to get the right test and treatment. The answer can depend on your particular situation.
Lyme Disease And Tick
Lyme disease patients have difficulty finding doctors with experience treating Lyme disease. For the past 25 years, LymeDisease.org has been connecting patients with Lyme-literate practitioners who specialize in caring for patients with Lyme disease.
We are happy to connect you with your nearest Lyme literate practitioners contact information. Please note, however, we are not privy to the status on each individual offices payment/insurance practices or if they are accepting new patients, with that said, we do encourage you to use the information available to contact the offices directly.
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How Can People Prevent Lyme Disease
There is currently no vaccine available to prevent Lyme disease however, there are three approaches to preventing Lyme disease.
- Try to stay out of woodlands and brush areas where the tick thrives, especially during the peak season of summer and early fall.
- Wear garments that will create barriers to the tick attaching to the skin and biting.
- Tuck pant legs into socks so ticks cannot easily crawl the short distance from the ground to just above the sock line. Wear light-colored clothing to better identify ticks.
- The application of the insecticide DEET to clothing and skin has been found to decrease tick bites and the chance for Lyme disease infections.
- Deer ticks need to remain attached to the skin for about 24-48 hours to transmit the Borrelia bacteria to the skin. Inspect all areas of the body after outdoor activity.
- If you notice a bite, it is very important to watch for symptoms, which usually show up in about three weeks.
- Ticks attach to areas that are warm and moist, such as
- the underside of a womans breasts, and
- the neck and hairline.
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Two Camps Two Approaches
Freitas saw a long string of mainstream physicians for a diagnosis rheumatologists, an infectious-disease specialist, family medicine doctors and emergency room physicians.Then, in the spring of 2020, she began seeing out-of-network doctors in and outside of Wisconsin, and many of them didnt take insurance.
A survey of more than 2,400 U.S. patients found that 50% of the respondents reported seeing at least seven physicians before a Lyme diagnosis, and more than half continued to suffer symptoms for at least six months after the recommended short course of antibiotics.
In January 2021, Freitas borrowed $4,000 from her mother-in-law and flew to Washington, D.C., to receive intravenous antibiotic therapy. The treatments failed to help in fact she dropped 30 pounds in a matter of weeks. I thought I was gonna die because I couldnt eat, Freitas said.
She continued to search for doctors.
On May 19, Oppenheimer and Freitas drove from their house in a quiet neighborhood in Middleton to northern Wisconsin.
They were on their way to a virtual visit with Dr. Samuel Shor. The Virginia-based internist works for the Tick-Borne Illness Center of Excellence in Woodruff, Wisconsin. Shor, who also is a clinical associate professor at George Washington University, sees patients in Wisconsin via telemedicine, charging $490 for an initial consultation.
It is disappointing to me that people resort to name-calling from either side,
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So When Do You Need Blood Tests For Lyme Disease
In some cases, you can have Lyme disease without the rash. Or you may not see the rash before it goes away on its own.
In these cases, your doctor should ask you about your medical history and do a thorough physical exam. Your doctor should look for these signs that you might have Lyme disease:
- You were in an area with ticks and Lyme disease.
- You also have fever or redness, warmth, and swelling in one or a few joints at a time usually the knees, shoulders, or wrists.
Other symptoms can occur later on. Talk to your doctor about testing and treatment choices.
This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.
What Is A Lyme
A LLMD is a physician whose experience with Lyme disease patients makes them familiar with the vast range of symptoms, co-infections, and complications associated with the disease at various stages. Because of this knowledge and expertise, many patients also find LLMDs more open-minded and understanding of their experiences, especially if theyre having a hard time getting an accurate diagnosis from another physician.
But how do you know if you need to see a LLMD? Below are some common reasons, any or all of which may apply to you.
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Health Woes Lead To Self
Oppenheimer said Freitas, once wildly independent, increasingly depends on him as she struggles with her health. The two met when she was a single mom driving a Madison Metro bus and juggling classes at the UW-Madison. Oppenheimer had overheard her speaking in Portuguese, and he tried to put together a phrase that he could speak in the same language. That led to a first date and in 2011, marriage.
But these days, Oppenheimer said, his wife is very drained.
And even friends and family members question whether the symptoms Freitas describes are real.
When everybody is saying that it is not Lyme, Freitas said, you start to question yourself.
She tried a four-week course of doxycycline, the first-line antibiotics therapy for treating Lyme disease, prescribed by another rheumatologist. She began to feel better, with less pain and less brain fog. However, the symptoms returned once she completed the treatment. She even found herself starting to stutter.
Oppenheimer himself was diagnosed with Lyme disease as a 19-year-old. At the time, he was living less than 50 miles from Lyme, Connecticut, the community for which the disease was named.
He described an arrogant unwillingness by the medical establishment to recognize what he believes are his wifes ongoing symptoms of Lyme disease.
just trying to be there with her and seemingly nothing to be able to do, and its horrible to watch, he said.