There are many symptoms of Lyme disease. Having any of them is an excellent reason to seek medical help. If you are lucky enough to find the deer tick or notice a red rash that forms a circle anywhere on your body, seek help immediately. You can receive antibiotics and may have a great chance of eliminating the infection.
Most people with Lyme disease are not this fortunate.
As the Lyme infection spreads through your body over time, symptoms worsen and become chronic. The symptoms mimic those of other disorders, leading to a misdiagnosis. This is why you must recognize and document your symptoms and work with a Lyme literate doctor to classify your symptoms better.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease progresses in stages. Early-onset also called early localized, symptoms include a rash that may or may not look like a bullseye, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, sore throat, headaches, stiff neck, and sore muscles and joints.
You do not have to have all these symptoms to have Lyme disease. Just one can signal a problem. As you can see, it would be easy for a general practitioner to misdiagnose your symptoms for something more common.
Inattention to, or misdiagnosis of, early localized symptoms can lead to the next stage, early dissemination. Your symptoms will worsen in this stage because the bacteria is spreading throughout your body rather than staying in one spot. You may also have periods of numbness or weakness in the arms and legs, vision problems, and bells palsy.
If your symptoms are not appropriately addressed by now, you run the risk of your Lyme disease entering the late dissemination stage. This is often referred to as chronic Lyme disease. At this stage, your Lyme disease is likely interfering with your ability to function and enjoy life.
Your symptoms include all of the above, only worse. You may also experience sleep disturbances, memory problems, inability to concentrate or focus, and you may find it hard to carry on lengthy conversations. This happens because your brain is struggling to process information.
This stage can become more dangerous for your health and can include heart rhythm disturbances.
No matter what stage you start experiencing symptoms, get tested.
Testing for Lyme Disease
Testing for Lyme disease is essential, yet general practitioners are limited to the tests they can use. Currently, there are two main test procedures, the ELISA and The Western Blot. Both of these test for the antibodies of Lyme disease. The problem? The antibodies can hide in your system, making them hard to detect.
Because of this, over half of the results of the two tests come back as a false negative.
Lyme literate doctors have special access to alternative Lyme disease testing methods.
Advanced Tests for Lyme Disease
One of the first tests a Lyme specialist may use is called Microscopy. Your doctor will want to analyze your blood through this form of assessment. Your blood will be smeared on a glass film slide and placed under the microscope for observation. This process allows Lyme doctors to detect the presence of bacteria. They can also be used to detect the presence of co-infections that often accompany Lyme disease.
Another advanced test is cerebral spinal fluid analysis, which looks at the chemical fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord. This is a quick, pain-free process in which a needle is inserted into your lumbar region to extract a sample of fluid. The sample is analyzed for any bacteria, fungi, or possible parasites.
Further tests include advanced imaging through MRI or CT scans in which doctors can search for lesions that may be caused by Lyme disease. Believe it or not, Lyme disease can affect the dental and facial areas of your body. It can cause tooth pain, facial pain, facial nerve paralysis, headaches, jaw pain, and more. Dental health assessments are a great way to assess for Lyme disease continually.
Finally, Lyme disease can cause hormonal and nutritional changes that can lead to imbalances in your mental and physical health. A Lyme specialist can thoroughly examine lab work that tests for nutritional and hormonal levels. Ensuring you are getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals to restore functioning will improve your immune system and its ability to fight infections like Lyme disease.
Even More Advanced Testing
You may think working with professionals outside of the United States will cost more and require more time and effort. This is not true. Once you have established yourself as a patient, your Lyme doctor will work with American doctors to continue your treatment.
Like the ones in Mexico, the goal of the Lyme specialists is to help you heal and eliminate your Lyme disease symptoms. They know you are suffering and that your struggle is real. This is why they do their best to keep prices low and services convenient.
Finding The Right Lyme Specialist
Just like when you search for any other doctor, do your homework. Seek doctors who are appropriately licensed, have sanitary offices with advanced on-site equipment, offer references, and offer consultations before procedures. Seek a doctor who is a teacher and who helps you understand Lyme disease and the treatments.
Finally, don’t be afraid to travel outside the United States for help. You deserve the best treatment. You deserve a life free of Lyme disease symptoms. Do whatever it takes to achieve it.