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While many reports claim there is no link between Lyme disease and Alzheimer’s, current research suggests there may be a link between the two. Numbers regarding how many people are affected by Lyme disease seem to vary, and only estimates can be made because many people have yet to be diagnosed. However, estimates show over 600,000 people are impacted by Lyme disease annually.

The Alzheimer’s Association reports at least 7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, with 73% being 75 years or older. To understand if there is a connection between Lyme disease and Alzheimer’s, it is best to learn more about them individually first.

What is Lyme’s Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection transmitted from a deer tick to a human. The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi lives in the bloodstream, multiplies, and spreads throughout the body. Lyme disease develops in three stages: early localized, early disseminated, and late disseminated. Painful and often debilitating symptoms represent each stage. If left untreated, the disease can become chronic and severely interfere with how a person functions.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain, damaging a person’s cognition, language, and memory. It is a form of dementia that produces abnormal clumps or plaques in the brain and disconnections among neurons. Where the plaque form determines how a person is affected. Plaques found in the hippocampus impair memory. If in the cerebral cortex, language and behaviors are impacted. Alzheimer’s is currently the 7th leading cause of death in America.

Lyme Disease Found in Alzheimer’s Brains

There has been research that shows the build-up of plaques containing Borrelia burgdorferi contributed to a person’s Alzheimer’s disease and death. This suggests that Lyme disease is part of the reason someone develops or sees a progression in their Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Researchers claim certain infections, like Lyme disease, increase a person’s chances of developing dementia. This may explain why some people with Alzheimer’s are misdiagnosed as having Lyme disease and vice versa. For example, famous actor Kris Kristofferson was misdiagnosed for years as having dementia until recently. They found out that Lyme disease was causing all his cognitive and memory problems.

The misdiagnosis may be because many of the symptoms in both diseases are similar and may overlap.

 

A Connection Between Lyme Disease and Alzheimer's? - Lyme Mexico

 

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

It is in the later stages of Lyme disease when symptoms mimic those of Alzheimer’s. Not only can someone still have symptoms that began early, including headaches, chills, fever, stiff neck, and joint pain, but they also may begin to suffer from neurological symptoms like the following:

  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Problems forming sentences
  • Problems processing thoughts
  • Weakened hearing
  • Inflammation in the brain and spinal cord
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Isolating themselves
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Psychiatric problems

The above symptoms can disrupt a person’s daily functioning. Severe inflammation throughout the body can be found in most chronic Lyme disease cases. Inflammation may play a key role in symptom development and progression.

Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms

Alzheimer’s disease symptoms can also significantly impair a person’s ability to function in daily activities. Cognitive symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Wandering or getting lost
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Trouble handling money
  • Repeating questions
  • Personality and behavior changes
  • Difficulty completing simple tasks
  • Problems with communication
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Poor judgment and decision-making skills
  • Psychiatric problems

Tasks or chores that were once easy but now are difficult could be signs of Alzheimer’s disease. 

The Role of Neuroinflammation

Inflammation is a major factor in Alzheimer’s disease. It worsens any changes in the brain and can cause new neurological symptoms. Neuroinflammation is inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that causes damage to the central nervous system.

Inflammation in the brain can be triggered by many factors, including infections. And each infection activates a different pathway that causes neuroinflammation. This implies that Lyme disease is a bacterial infection. It could trigger an inflammatory response in the brain when symptoms are untreated.

Inflammation is a defense mechanism protecting the brain and body from foreign pathogens. However, Lyme disease has proven that its presence can trigger an autoimmune response, causing the immune system to activate. Lyme bacteria are great at going undetected. Although the immune system cannot find the bacteria, it does not stop looking. This means your body is in a constant state of inflammation. When inflammation crosses the blood-brain barrier, it can start attacking parts of the brain that impact cognitive abilities.

Getting the Right Diagnosis

Getting an accurate diagnosis is crucial for treatment purposes. Too often, Lyme disease and Alzheimer’s are misdiagnosed. News reports state one in five people are misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. 

Lyme disease is also misdiagnosed for other conditions. The primary reason is faulty or lack of accurate testing. Without suitable testing methods, doctors must rely on symptoms noted by the patient. It is a guessing game or a process of elimination that fails the patient.

Lyme disease currently uses the ELISA test. If the results are positive, patients are tested again using the Western Blot test to confirm the diagnosis. The problem is that these tests are inaccurate more than half the time.

Currently, there are no general tests for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. So, how do you get an accurate diagnosis? The answer is to see a rare and infectious diseases specialist, also known as a Lyme-literate doctor.

Finding a Lyme-Literate Doctor

Your first step may be to google “Lyme-literate doctors near me.” The results can make you feel even more confused and overwhelmed. Your second step should be to search directly for a reputable organization, like the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. Here, you will find specialists, like Dr. Morales of Lyme Mexico Clinic, who have exceptional knowledge of Lyme and Alzheimer’s diseases.

Dr. Morales is also involved in research efforts and owns advanced equipment to perform alternative treatments to eliminate your symptoms. Most importantly, he has testing methods that far exceed traditional tests so you can be correctly diagnosed and treated.

If you have been diagnosed with Lyme or Alzheimer’s disease, get a second opinion from a specialist. Don’t spend years dealing with symptoms that could have been prevented.

Consider traveling outside the United States, Canada, and the UK to Mexico to meet with a top clinic, Lyme Mexico. Learn more about Lyme disease or schedule an evaluation. We can discuss your symptoms and the alternative treatment options that work.

 

A Connection Between Lyme Disease and Alzheimer's? - Lyme Mexico

 

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