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.
Cdc Supports The Development Of New Tests
New tests may be developed as alternatives to one or both steps of the two-step process. Before CDC will recommend new tests, they must be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration . For more details, see: Recommendations for Test Performance and Interpretation from the Second National Conference on Serologic Diagnosis of Lyme Disease.
Chronic Lyme Dos And Don’ts
Chronic Lyme disease is an ongoing Borrelia burgdorferi infection that can involve any body system or tissue. The infection produces a wide range of symptoms and signs, which can be debilitating for some patients. Common symptoms include severe fatigue, migratory musculoskeletal pain, headaches, and impaired memory. Unfortunately, chronic Lyme disease is complex and often misunderstood, which means that many patients will struggle to obtain the care they need to regain their health. Every patient concerned about Lyme disease and tick-borne illness should know the following.
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Expert Tips For Exercising With Lyme Disease
Dr. Schweig shared some tips for exercising with Lyme disease to improve comfort and effectiveness while reducing the potential drawbacks and challenges:
- Find a physician and care team who can provide a complete diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan to address the Lyme disease and any other underlying infections and rebalance body systems that have been adversely affected by the illness.
- Eat a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet rich in fresh vegetables, lean proteins, seeds, and nuts and free from excessive sugars, salt, alcohol, and processed fats.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Focus on getting enough quality sleep, as this can reduce inflammation in the body and improve immune function.
- Consider dietary supplements for Lyme disease, such as collagen, vitamin C, Magnesium, B vitamins, amino acids, and adaptogenic herbs.
If you are going to try and run a marathon with Lyme disease or take on other serious exercise training programs, you should speak with your physician and consider if this type of rigorous training is really the right stress to be putting on your body while battling Lyme disease.
Though running with Lyme disease is certainly possible for many patients, and even completing a marathon isnt unilaterally out of the question, its important to put your recovery from the illness first on your priority list and your fitness goals second.
Use exercise to expedite healing and mitigate symptoms doing too much can have the opposite effect.
Create A Health Toolkit To Manage Symptoms
Sometimes, you feel unwell as soon as you get out of bed in the morning. Other times, a flare-up comes on suddenly, without any advanced warning, causing you to question whether or not you can make it through the rest of a hectic day. Lyme disease is a reality in your daily life, and the symptoms dont stop just because youre at work.
So what can you do to ease symptoms and avoid overtaxing yourself? Consider creating a health toolkit that you keep at your office to get you through the rough patches.
Some days, I use a chair back massager between appointments. It has a heat option and can target specific areas, so this helps relax tight muscles and keeps detox pathways open, says Julie Parker, a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice.
To set the stage for a less stimulating environment, Parker keeps her office lights dim, which helps to mitigate the onset of headaches. Also, she stocks her health toolkit with calming products and healing beverages.
I keep relaxing essential oils, CBD oil, and detox teas on hand to help as much as possible, she says, though, some days are still a matter of willpower or knowing when her body has reached its max capacity.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Untreated Lyme Disease
Seek medical attention if you observe any of these symptoms and have had a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme disease, or have recently traveled to an area where Lyme disease occurs.
Untreated Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms, depending on the stage of infection. These include fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis.
The appearance of the erythema migrans rash can vary widely.
- Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes may occur in the absence of rash
- Erythema migrans rash :
- Occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons
- Begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days
- Expands gradually over several days reaching up to 12 inches or more across
- May feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
- Sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or bulls-eye appearance
- May appear on any area of the body
- Does not always appear as a classic erythema migrans rash
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat
- Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
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Best Exercise For Lyme Disease
If you are trying to decide what type of exercise is best for Lyme disease, there are a few things to be aware of. With Lyme disease, it’s important that you avoid high-impact activities like running and weightlifting. This will cause further damage to your body. But there are many benefits of regular exercise regardless of your condition, including improved mood, reduced pain, and improved energy levels.
Some people with Lyme disease find walking helpful because it is low-impact and can improve mobility while also imparting all of the other benefits listed above. If walking is not an option due to pain or physical limitations, consider swimming or water aerobics. These activities allow your joints to move through their full range of motion without straining your muscles or bones.
If you’re looking for a more intense workout program, pilates may be the right fit for you. Pilates’ gentle movements can reduce tension in your muscles while increasing flexibility and strengthening muscles at the same time. Yoga could also be a good option if you’re looking for a mind-body fitness routine that focuses on postures and breathing techniques instead of impactful workouts like running or weightlifting.
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for people with Lyme disease. The water offers support and buoyancy, which makes your joints less vulnerable to injury. You can still build muscle and stay active while in the pool.
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If You Have Chronic Lyme Like Me Then You Know That Exercising Can Be A Huge Challenge
Your joints might hurt or swell, you might even find it difficult to walk. Plus, you are TIRED. Whether or not you are going through treatment, you might feel hungover, potentially from the toxins building up in your body from the die-off of bacteria or candida.
I remember my doctor saying that this toxicity is worsened by stagnant lifestyle. But if its difficult to move your body from treatment, how can you detox? How can you move around when you feel like youre going to faint just from walking?
Below are a few of the ways I was able to exercise during treatment and during recovery. This isnt meant to replace any advice you get from your practitioner- you should of course consult a health care provider first. But I hope my successes with the below help you in your Lyme journey!
Lastly, the key thing to remember is: Dont over do it. Movement is important, but it isnt worth you fainting or falling!
If youve heard it once, youve heard it a million times: Yoga is great for detox! But also for people with low energy . Im really not that into yoga, but being able to do something is important. Start with gentle/beginner classes, then as your energy increases, mix it up if you feel confident! You know your body the best so dont venture into something like hot yoga unless you know the heat wont get to you. As someone who cant regulate her temperature, I didnt try hot yoga until two months after treatment, with plenty of fluids.
2. Light Weight Lifting
Does Weight Training Help Those With Lyme Disease
es, strength training is beneficial for people with Lyme Disease. We start by focusing on gentle body weight exercises to increase joint, spinal stability which added greater core and hip strength so that activities like walking and climbing stairs were less fatiguing while balance also improved.
Gradually progressed to using exercise tubing, cables and free weights in more dynamic movements such as presses, rows, deadlifts, and steps ups. The intensity was kept at an individualized light to moderate level so that each activity was enough to stimulate health gains, but not produce too much fatigue.
Another way to reduce fatigue is with self-myofascial release, an individualized gentle self-stretching program and Fascial Stretch Therapy to gradually improve joint range of motion and calm the nervous system.
An important part of our programs is client education. This includes teaching self-pacing strategies as well as proper movement patterns before loading .
Please contact us at if you know of someone who is affected by chronic fatigue or Lyme Disease and is unsure of how to exercise appropriately.
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Risks Of Exercising With Lyme Disease
Although there are definitely benefits of exercise for people with Lyme disease, there are also certain risks and contraindications.
The bacterium that causes Lyme disease has been shown to invade joints and organs of people affected by later stages of the disease, and this may weaken these joints and even impact organ function, warns Dr. Schweig. For these reasons, the stress of high-impact sports may actually be detrimental for people with Lyme disease.
Indeed, joint pain from Lyme disease can make it challenging for people with persistent Lyme disease to run.
It is often the case that runners need to reduce their mileage a bit and dial back the intensity while they are being treated for Lyme disease, particularly if joint pain and inflammation causes changes to your running stride.
Because researchers do not yet fully understand all the mechanisms behind how the bacterium impacts joints, hearts, brains, and other parts of the body, its important that you do what feels right for you, advises Dr. Schweig.
Diet & Targeted Exercise Can Help Lyme
If you have Lyme disease, discuss a protocol for killing the bacteria with your doctor. Of course, this is imperative for eliminating symptoms.
That said, most Lyme protocols take time, and there is much more you can do during treatment to mitigate symptoms of pain.
For instance, Dr. Farshchians clinic advises people with Lyme arthritis to decrease any environmental factors that may contribute to inflammation, such as mold exposure or mast cell activation . Addressing common comorbidities often makes a significant improvement in symptoms, she says. In addition, her clinic aims to help patients reduce inflammation organically through diet, lifestyle, anti-inflammatory herbal supplements, medications, light therapy, Epsom-salt baths, and exercise.
In my experience and that of my clients, all these approaches can be helpful. Below are a few of my favorite strategies.
1. Rolling with a foam roller
One thing you can easily do at home is to roll tight tissue in your body with a foam roller. This helps to lengthen and release tension in your fascia, or connective tissue.
Rollers are inexpensive and available online. Just play with gently rolling the muscles surrounding painful joints, or really any sore muscles at all, with the roller. If you need ideas for how to experiment with this, this video demonstrates my favorite ways to roll.
2. Gentle strengthening
3. A low sugar diet
When to Consider Testing for Lyme
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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.
* Silver HM. Lyme disease during pregnancy. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 1997 Mar 11:93-7.
The most common co-infections that occur with Lyme disease are anaplasmosis and babesiosis. In general:
Key Points To Remember
- Most Lyme disease tests are designed to detect antibodies made by the body in response to infection.
- Antibodies can take several weeks to develop, so patients may test negative if infected only recently.
- Antibodies normally persist in the blood for months or even years after the infection is gone therefore, the test cannot be used to determine cure.
- Infection with other diseases, including some tickborne diseases, or some viral, bacterial, or autoimmune diseases, can result in false positive test results.
- Some tests give results for two types of antibody, IgM and IgG. Positive IgM results should be disregarded if the patient has been ill for more than 30 days.
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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.
Challenges Of Exercising With Lyme Disease
Because of the multi-system symptoms characteristic of this disease, its common to experience at least some degree of impairment to your ability to exercise when you have it.
Lyme disease can impair exercise ability for a variety of reasons including joint pain and inflammation, muscle pain, weakness, numbness and tingling, dizziness, balance issues, fatigue, cognitive impairment, mitochondrial impairment , and more, explains Dr. Schweig.
Your personal presentation of symptoms will affect the type, intensity, duration, and frequency of exercise you can do, and as your case changes over time, so too may your ability to exercise.
For example, if you experience a lot of joint pain and stiffness, you might not be able to run comfortably due to the joint impact.
However, you might feel even better while swimming than you do at rest because of the buoyancy and pressure from the water.
If you have neurological Lyme disease symptoms such as dizziness and muscle weakness, your tolerance to exercise may be quite low.
Stretching or gentle yoga might be all you can handle.
Despite the challenges of exercising with Lyme disease, Dr. Schweig says he almost always encourages people to try and do some type of exercise in order to reap the health benefits of physical activity.
According to Swiss guidelines regarding Lyme disease, low-impactaerobic exercise is recommended for all patients.
Strength training has also been shown to be beneficial for people with Lyme.
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