What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a serious infectious disease resulting from the bite of an infected tick. Ticks that carry Lyme are found throughout the entire United States and all over the globe. Lyme disease knows NO BORDERS. The disease is caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria (spirochete) called Borrelia Burgdorferi. There are currently five known subspecies of Borrelia Burgdorferi, more than 100 different strains in the U.S., and more than 300 strains worldwide. Co-infections also transmitted by tick bites are common for patients with Lyme and include Anaplasma, Babesia, Bartonella, and Ehrlichia. Lyme disease is a significant public health risk and is currently the fastest growing vector-borne disease in
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
The most tell-tale symptom is a bull’s-eye shaped rash, however, less than 50% of people eventually diagnosed with Lyme recall having any kind of rash or even being bitten by a tick. In cases where this rash is present, it is a positive indicator for Lyme and treatment is started immediately. Other symptoms of Lyme may include several of the following:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Fever, chills, night sweats
- Arthritis (joint pain)
- Headaches and neck pain
- Chest pain and heart palpitations
- Neurologic conditions such as Bell’s Palsy (paralysis of one side of the face)
- Cognitive impairment, poor memory, difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
- Numbness and tingling (neuropathy)
- Anxiety and Depression
When not diagnosed and treated quickly enough, Lyme disease has the ability to evade normal immune response and develop into Chronic Lyme. Chronic Lyme can infect the heart and brain, among other organs, leading to significant disability.
It’s also important to note that Lyme disease is known as “the great imitator” of our time. The presentation and symptoms often mimic other illnesses like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, and other rheumatologic and neurologic conditions.
How is Lyme Disease diagnosed?
Many blood tests and existing test methods are unreliable in the diagnosis of Lyme. The common Elisa test and many versions of the Western Blot test return false negatives for 35% of patients (or more) who later are diagnosed with Lyme through blood cultures and clinical evaluation. For proper diagnosis, it is extremely important to make sure you are working with a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor. ILADS is the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society, the most reputable worldwide authority and source of education, research, and treatment guidelines for Lyme disease and its co-infections. ILADS member physicians are specially trained in the proper testing for and diagnosis of Lyme and co-infections. ILADS member physicians may also sometimes be referred to as LLMDs or Lyme Literate Medical Doctors. If Lyme is even remotely suspected, it is imperative to seek out an ILADS physician.
How is Lyme treated?
The appropriate treatment for Lyme can vary depending on whether the patient has newly-acquired Lyme or Chronic Lyme, as well as if they have any of the common co-infections. A combination of treatments may be used to support immune system function along with antibiotics. Even with quick recognition and treatment of newly-acquired Lyme, some patients may be more genetically-susceptible to developing Chronic Lyme and may experience relapses. Lyme is a complex illness that requires a comprehensive treatment plan, based on ILADS guidelines, and close monitoring by the treating physician. Dr. Thomas uses the latest research, training, and guidelines, along with other supportive care measures to strengthen the body’s immune response to provide the best care available for patients with Lyme disease.