Do You Think You May Have Lyme Disease?
Check out the following signs and symptoms to see if any match for you:
- Do you have fatigue and brain fog that started years ago and has gradually worsened over time?
- Do you have cyclical bouts of malaise, fever, fatigue and body aches?
- Do you have joint pain and swelling that persists without a diagnosis of rheumatoid or osteoarthritis? If so were you given a “catch all” diagnosis of mixed connective tissue?
- Did you have a summer flu that persisted and was diagnosed with mononucleosis but you developed persistent fatigue, weakness, headaches and dizziness?
- Do you have non-specific symptoms that are dismissed by your primary care physician or you are told that you have fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome?
- Did your symptoms improve or even clear up after a round of antibiotics, just to return when you stopped taking them?
- Did you suddenly or over time develop neurological conditions that include dizziness, headaches, numbness and tingling in your
arms or legs, or pain in your hands or feet?
- After experiencing a trauma such as a car accident, emotional loss, or even childbirth, did you find yourself with persistent fatigue,brain fog, and insomnia?
Lyme Disease is Difficult to Diagnose
Many people diagnosed with Lyme disease don’t remember a tick bite or recall the tick bite occurring long before their symptoms developed. One patient of mine remembered going on many camping trips in his youth and having numerous tick bites. He said he was unusually tired as a teenager and did not find relief until he was treated with antibiotics for acne, only to find the fatigue returning when the antibiotics were stopped. Years later, he put the pieces together and tested positive for Lyme disease.
The symptoms of Lyme disease can be so nonspecific that it is difficult to catch before the disease has progressed. Some people even develop the characteristic bulls eye rash and are treated with antibiotics for 2-4 weeks only to see their symptoms return years later. Studies indicate that 10-20% of those diagnosed and treated for acute Lyme disease have persistent symptoms after treatment is stopped. It even has a name: post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). The journal BMC Public Health estimates that there will be 2 million cases of PTSLDS by 2020.
Studies also show that the bacteria can disseminate widely and quickly from the blood to distant organs, the nervous system and musculoskeletal system. The ticks can transmit other bacteria and parasites that cannot be treated as effectively by typical antibiotics that are used to treat Lyme disease.
Reasons for Chronic Lyme Disease to Develop
- It is common to have no memory of a tick bite or bulls eye rash.
- In some cases the treatment was not long enough or not aggressive enough and relapses can happen, especially after stressful events or periods.
- Symptoms can vary in number and intensity. Sometimes only one symptom appears such as chronic anxiety, fatigue, headaches or insomnia.
- Some patients may develop multiple symptoms that persist despite treatment, such as joint or muscle pain that doesn’t respond to typical pain management and anti-inflammatory approaches.
- Symptoms of Lyme disease can come on suddenly years after the exposure to the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferii. People can be symptom free for many years only to have unusual, persistent symptoms appear after a traumatic event in their life, such as a car accident, surgery, or an event that causes substantial mental or emotional stress.
- It can mimic other illnesses including Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and others.
There are some clues to help with the diagnosis of Chronic Lyme disease. However, remember that every presentation of Lyme disease is unique. How it presents can be influenced by the strain of the borrelia burgdorpherii, the number of co-infections, the health of your immune system, diet, genetics, and other factors.
- Do you have fluctuations in your symptoms? You can have good and bad days or even long periods of feeling better.
- Migratory involvement. Sometimes pain in joints or muscles can wander from joint to joint.
- Symptoms may cycle – Typically symptoms flare every 4 weeks, however, I have seen them cycle weekly.
- In women, symptom flares can coincide with their menstrual cycle.
- What happened when you were treated with antibiotics in the past?
– Was there improvement in symptoms? Was there a
worsening of symptoms or a herxheimer response?
- What happened if you were treated with corticosteroids in the past? – Was there an exacerbation in symptoms?
- What happens when you travel to high elevations? Do your symptoms get worse?
THERE IS HOPE
Since I started treating those suffering from Lyme disease in 2007 there have been more and more studies published on the mechanisms of borrelia burgdorheri. The studies are focusing on how borrelia burgdorheri is transmitted, how it can suppress the immune system, how it can disseminate and persist to areas of the body and how it can even efflux antibiotics out of the cell.
Many books have been published by practitioners that have recovered from Lyme disease, as well as those whom have been treating Lyme disease for a very long time. There are Facebook groups with patients sharing their stories, giving examples of remedies and techniques that have worked for them. There are also support groups cropping up, even in Colorado where many believe Lyme does not exist, despite evidence that it is in all 50 states.
I am seeing more rheumatologists and neurologists support the diagnosis of Lyme disease here in Colorado and encourage their patients to keep working with me, and medical doctors who are willing to collaborate with me since they see their patients improving on antibiotics and herbs.
There are many more approaches for healing from Lyme disease. There are more herbal remedies available that work to kill Lyme and co-infections and boost the immune system, studies on the use of antibiotics for chronic Lyme disease as well as a novel approach using disulfiram or antabuse to treat Lyme disease. Some get benefit from energy healing, diet, lifestyle changes, and IV vitamins and minerals. The one factor that is clear is that everyone is unique and there isn’t one approach to recovering from this disease. The more we share information and work together, the more likely we are to find the right solution(s) for you. Recovery is possible!