Lyme Disease 101

We’ve all heard of Lyme disease before and I’m sure most of us are aware of a few telltale signs of an infection – a “bull’s eye” mark coupled with flu-like symptoms.  Lyme disease is an inflammatory infection caused by a borellia bacterial infection that can be passed to humans commonly through tick bites.  Lyme disease can also be associated with co-infections of other microorganisms that may have been transmitted at the same time as the borellia infection.  There is no “gold standard” test for Lyme disease and most testing that exists carries a high false negative rate, making the condition difficult to diagnose objectively with testing.

What are the symptoms?

Lyme disease is often overlooked or misdiagnosed, primarily because of its nonspecific signs and symptoms.  The first physical signs are often flu-like in nature and over time can progress into more concerning neurological concerns such as muscle twitching and pain, facial paralysis, blurred vision, buzzing in the ears and dizziness.  For a full list of symptoms of Lyme disease, check out CanLyme – the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation’s website (www.canlyme.com).  What’s also important to be aware of is you don’t necessarily have to remember being bitten by a tick in order to rule out Lyme disease – about 50% of people infected don’t remember being bitten and less than 50% of people get the classic “bull’s eye” rash.

Lyme disease is often overlooked or misdiagnosed, primarily because of its nonspecific signs and symptoms.

Early detection and treatment is incredibly important for a full recovery from Lyme disease.  In fact, there is no evidence to suggest that Lyme disease will go away on its own either.  All the more reason to read up and become aware of this condition and know what to do if you suspect Lyme disease when symptoms first appear. 

What treatment options are available?

Treatment for Lyme disease will vary depending on which stage a patient is in or if there are any co-infections present.  Certain antibiotics are most effective in the early stages of Lyme disease and can be used alone or in combination with other antibiotics.  Complimentary/integrative/naturopathic medicine can also be used alongside antibiotic treatment to help minimize any unwanted side effects from the medication.  From oral supplementation to infusions to antimicrobial herbs and nutraceuticals to immune system and hormonal support, there is a lot that complimentary medicine can offer for Lyme disease sufferers.  The ultimate goal is to get patients feeling better, faster and with minimal side effects.

Lyme disease (an its co-infections) should be something that is on our radars so we can prevent long-term suffering from such a debilitating condition.  The more likely we all are in identifying the signs and symptoms, the better treatment outcomes a person suffering from the disease will have.