Lyme Disease and other Tick-Borne Infections
Lyme disease was first discovered in Lyme, Connecticut in the mid 1970s. It was found to be the cause of a sudden epidemic of arthritis in children. It is caused by a “spirochete” (a “corkscrew shaped” bacteria). Transmitted by tick bites, Lyme disease can make you very sick. It can even be deadly.
Three Reasons why Lyme Disease is tough to deal with:
1. Lyme disease can progress very slowly or remain dormant with little to no symptoms for a long time. It can often take years for you to fully realize what’s happening. And the longer Lyme disease goes undiagnosed and untreated, the harder it can be for you to recover fully.
2. Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. Unlike a simple illness like strep throat where your doctor can obtain a swab and grow out the bacteria on a plate to make the diagnosis, Lyme disease diagnosis currently relies on tests of your body’s antibodies to the Lyme organism. See below for additional information about challenges in diagnosing Lyme disease.
3. Lyme disease can be tough to treat even if you find it. People are diagnosed with Lyme disease in a conventional setting when antibodies are identified in their lab work or on the basis of a specific skin rash appearance after a tick bite. Most often, these patients are given a 2 week course of an antibiotic like Doxycycline. This helps some people recover completely. The problem?– Some people just don’t get better. In fact, sometimes they get worse.
Lyme disease patients often struggle to get relief – this is because many doctors don’t fully understand this condition and patients with chronic or unusual symptoms are sometimes told that the symptoms are in their head. This is an unfortunate situation that has happened far too many times. If you have Lyme disease or suspect you have Lyme disease – I assure you, your symptoms are not in your head.
What kind of symptoms are caused by Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease can be progressive and has three stages of symptoms:
1. Early Lyme disease – This occurs a week or two after the initial bite and includes the following symptoms:
- Bullseye rash (note: only 50% of patients remember a bite)
- Flu-like symptoms
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
2. Early Disseminated Lyme disease – If you don’t catch your tick bite right away, the second stage of Lyme disease can take months to progress. Second stage Lyme disease symptoms include:
- Swollen joints
- Extreme fatigue
- Short-term memory loss
- A one sided facial paralysis called “Bell’s Palsy”
- Tingling and numbness
3. Late Disseminated Lyme disease – This is the most serious phase of Lyme disease, which can take years to develop. It can be life threatening. Symptoms in the final stage of Lyme disease include:
- Severe arthritis
- Violent mood swings
- Heart rhythm irregularities like atrial fibrillation
- Loss of muscle control
- Debilitating fatigue
- Memory loss
Lyme disease can be very difficult to diagnose for at least 3 reasons
- There is no commercially available culture to grow the bacteria. We rely on the body’s ability to make antibodies to the Lyme organism. This ability is impaired in some patients. They are more likely to have a negative test, even with active infection.
- The Lyme spirochete has several different forms ( a cyst form, a cell wall form, an intracellular form, and it can exist in a biofilm. This may help it evade (hide) from our immune system which may decrease the likelihood antibodies are made.
- The sensitivity of common commercially available Lyme blood tests can be as low as 50%. This means it will have up to a 50% false negative rate.
Other Tick-Borne Infections
Though Lyme disease has gotten most of the attention, there is a long list of other tick-borne infections that could also be making you sick. In fact, it’s estimated that up three-quarters of all patients with Lyme disease may also have co-infections – making it very likely that if you have Lyme disease, you also have another infection. At Vine Healthcare, we always check for other tick-borne illnesses, as well as any conditions that may have been triggered by the Lyme disease itself. Only when you know exactly what you’re dealing with, can you fully and successfully treat Lyme disease.
Different tick-borne infections have varying symptoms. Sometimes the differences in the symptoms can help point you in the right direction when searching for answers. Besides Lyme disease, here are other tick-borne infections and their distinctive symptoms:
- Babesia – Night sweats, hunger, fever, hemolytic anemia, and fatigue.
- Bartonella – Symptoms that wax and wane, red rash (stretch mark-like), fever, neurological symptoms, and bone pain – especially shin and heel pain.
- Ehrlichia – Rash, fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain.
- Mycoplasma – Upper respiratory infection symptoms, headaches, and sore throats.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever – Splotchy, spreading rash that often begins on soles of feet and hands, high fever, severe headaches, brain fog, and possible organ failure.
- Anaplasma – Fevers, rashes, headaches, and brain fog.
- Colorado Tick Fever – Recurring fevers.
- Tick-borne Relapsing Fever – Recurring fevers and rashes, muscle and joint pain.
- Q Fever – High fever, sweats, and chills.
- Powassan Viral Encephalitis – Severe neurological symptoms and fever.
- Tularemia – Ulcers and swollen lymph nodes.
It’s also not uncommon for Lyme disease to trigger other conditions within people. Because Lyme disease can cause a dysfunctional immune system, it can cause hibernating pathogens like the Epstein-Barr virus to reemerge. When Lyme disease reactivates other organisms, it can add to the already confusing list of symptoms and cause a complex presentation.
Lyme Disease Treatment
Treating Lyme Disease can also be quite challenging and must be personalized. The ability of the organism to evade the immune system sometimes requires a prolonged treatment course.
Compounding health issues are common with Lyme disease patients, and so we have a number of treatments that help reduce inflammation, support detoxification, and strengthen the immune system, these include:
- Infrared sauna – Think of infrared saunas like a hyper-detox chamber. Infrared saunas are excellent for those with Lyme disease because they reduce inflammation and open up detoxification pathways.
- Lymphatic drainage massage – Our lymphatic drainage massage helps get the lymphatic system flowing, which promotes better detoxification – an essential process for anyone with Lyme disease.
- IV therapy – We have a number of IV therapies available for our Lyme disease patients. IV therapies have proven to be very effective in people with Lyme disease.
- Ozone therapy – Medical grade ozone promotes natural healing processes within the body, and is an excellent therapy for those with Lyme disease.
- BioMat therapy – BioMat therapy creates negative ions within the body, which helps fight inflammation. We use our BioMat with every massage, which promotes better detoxification.
Is Lyme Disease Curable?
When it comes to Lyme disease there are a lot of factors at play. The first being, you may have other tick-borne co-infections. Coinfections were largely missed by the medical community until recently. We’ve come to find out that when you get a tick bite, you’re not usually just exposed to Lyme disease. Second, other underlying infections not due to the tick bite can also cause problems. And finally, your personal body chemistry and environmental exposures play a large role in how you react and recover from Lyme disease.
With the Fully Functional® process it is possible to cure Lyme disease. Although in some people treating Lyme disease means management over a complete remedy. Even if you have to manage your Lyme disease, you can still live a very full and healthy life by implementing the steps of the Fully Functional® process.
Finding a Doctor Who Specializes in Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a condition that may get worse with time. So, if you think you’ve been exposed to the Lyme disease pathogen, you should make an appointment with a specialist immediately. Remember, this is a complex and misunderstood disease – make sure you make an appointment with a Functional Medicine doctor who is experienced in Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections.
The process of diagnosing Lyme disease and developing an individualized treatment plan can be a long and arduous process. However, if you complete this journey with an experienced, certified Functional Medicine doctor who can guide you along the way, it can be not only manageable but empowering. This is why we always recommend you find a Physician you trust and respect when treating your Lyme disease and tick-borne infections. You can look for Lyme disease doctors by checking the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society website.
Drs. Ellen and Scott Antoine have years of experience in treating Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. Their proprietary Fully Functional® process has helped thousands of people successfully manage and overcome chronic conditions. For an experienced, certified Functional Medicine Physician in the Indianapolis area, who specializes in Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections – you can request appointment here or call 317-989-8463.