Every year, nearly 30,000 Lyme disease cases are reported to the CDC. The number increases dramatically when diagnosed yet unreported cases are considered. After performing two studies, the CDC determined that “the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States is around 300,000.”
This number may be alarming, terrifying, or discouraging. Perhaps you suffer from the debilitating symptoms of Lyme disease or know someone who does. The good news amidst the shocking numbers is this: the increase of Lyme diagnoses has forced diagnostic research. Diagnosing Lyme disease early on is an ongoing challenge.
However, a diagnosis of Lyme disease today is not a death sentence. Treatment and recovery begin with comprehending the scope of the disease, including what Lyme disease is, common symptoms associated, and frequent treatments methods.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease symptoms emerged in the early 1970s. A group of startling rheumatoid arthritis cases arose in Lyme, Connecticut and surrounding towns. Since this breakout, researchers have discovered the Lyme disease has infected individuals for thousands of years.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Bacteria are carried on infected blacklegged or deer ticks and transmitted to humans through bite. Emerging research also shows other bugs such as spiders, flies, and mosquitoes can also be Lyme transmitters. The disease can infect any organ of the body, from muscles and joints to the heart. A tick itself is the carrier of a variety of other diseases, including babesiosis and anaplasmosis. Not every tick bite spreads Lyme disease, but it is important to send your tick for testing to be rule out the possibility.
What Are Common Symptoms?
Lyme is dubbed “The Great Imitator,” because many of its symptoms mirror other diseases. Lyme patients have been misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and even depression. Spreading an understanding of the common Lyme symptoms creates an arising awareness – hopefully, individuals will learn to identify symptoms and catch Lyme in its earliest stages of infection.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease can occur within 3 to 30 days of infection. Symptoms are expressed in varying ways from patient to patient, in three stages of infection. These stages include early localized Lyme, early disseminated Lyme, and late disseminated Lyme.
Below, we examine a few of the most common symptom manifestations seen during early localized Lyme.
Some patients experience fever, chills, nausea, fatigue, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and joint pain.
The “bull’s-eye” shaped rash, erythema migrans, is a commonly associated characteristic of Lyme disease. Few cases resemble the Target logo, with a defined outer ring. Most are rounded, red, and about 2-inches across. How many patients develop the rash? Unhelpfully, estimates range from about 30-80%. For example, less than half of Lyme carditis patients, a potentially fatal infection, have rashes. On the other hand, Lyme disease patients without a bull’s-eye rash are often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, skewing the numbers dramatically. Therefore, the precise percentage of patients with a rash is largely unknown.
If left untreated, symptoms intensify. The following symptoms are often experienced during the early and late disseminated Lyme stages of infection.
- Headache, Neck Stiffness
- Spreading Rashes
- Arthritis, Severe Joint Pain: Knees are a common area for swelling and pain
- Facial Drooping/ Paralysis, Muscle Tone Degradation
- Memory and Concentration Problems
- Irregular Heartbeat, Chest Pain
- Vision Changes
- Inflamed Brain
- Irregular Pain, Numbness, or Tingling in Hands and Feet
- Expanding Rash: Over time, the rash widens, reaching nearly 12-inches at times. Sometimes, the rash feels warm; however, it will typically not itch or cause severe pain.
How is Lyme Disease Diagnosed?
Doctors generally diagnose Lyme disease based on symptoms. Often, two-step blood tests are utilized. Like an across-the-counter pregnancy test, however, the blood test results can differ depending on when infection occurred. Antibodies take varying lengths of time to develop, and a premature blood test could return negative simply due to underdeveloped disease. Most doctors recommend the two-step blood test after early symptoms are apparent. That’s why at LaCava center we run comprehensive testing for Lyme and co-infections using the latest technology.
Fighting Lyme disease from its roots begins with developing an accurate testing system. The earlier the disease is detected, the sooner treatment can prevent further infection.
What Are Common Treatments?
Antibiotics are utilized to address early stage Lyme infections. Doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime the most common prescribed antibiotics, each taken for varying amounts of time. Unfortunately, antibiotics are effective around 90% of the time.
If an initial dose of antibiotics is ineffective, intravenous infusion of antibiotics is ideal for early disseminated or late-stage Lyme. Intravenous infusion ensures that all properties of the antibiotics are distributed throughout the body.
How Can I Prevent Ticks?
If you do not suffer from Lyme personally, you should take measurable steps to prevent tick bites.
- Wear pants and socks in wooded areas. For those of you raking leaves, be sure to dress appropriately. Ticks don’t fly or jump from the ground to bite; they grab onto individuals from shrubs, bushes, or piles of leaves.
- Use tick repellent. DEET, lemon oil, or eucalyptus work effectively. Permethrin provides an extra layer of chemical protection if desired.
- After spending extended time outside, in wooded areas, or raking take a shower shortly after coming inside.
- Perhaps obviously, check your skin and hair for ticks and wash any out, if necessary.
- Put your clothing into a dryer to kill any remining ticks or pests.
The LaCava Center for Integrative Medicine
The LaCava Center is dedicated to providing effective treatment, targeting the root of the issue to eliminate symptoms. We specialize in Lyme disease. Our doctors understand that Lyme is smart and debilitating, potentially ruining lives. We’ve been enabled to partner with a lab that has the expertise to properly test for Lyme’s existence.
Do you suffer from Lyme disease? Are you continually suffering without reprieve from received treatment? Do you know someone who fits this definition? Please call us today to discuss your case with our doctors at (847) 695-6262 or via our online contact form. We want to help you!