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Lyme disease is known for joint pain, but in the long-term it can cause neurological symptoms like meningitis, facial palsy, and cognitive dysfunction. Diagnosing and treating Lyme disease early is crucial. Treatment options include antibiotics, as well as adjunct therapies such as physical and cognitive behavioral therapy, supportive care, and alternative treatments such as ozone therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. 

Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, transmitted through tick bites. Both in the short- and long-term, Lyme disease can lead to a variety of health issues if left untreated. Early symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans, known for its radiating bullseye shape. As the disease progresses, it can affect the nervous system, leading to more severe complications, ranging from nerve pain to partial paralysis.

Here is what you should know about common Lyme disease neurological symptoms and treatment options.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a condition caused by infection with a specific bacterium, transmitted by ticks. While discovered and named after the town of Old Lyme in Connecticut (present-day Lyme), Lyme disease has been around for thousands of years, with archaeological evidence (owed to well-preserved mummies) dating back to around 3300 BC. Deer ticks are the most common source of Lyme disease, and can be found in forests, brushes, thickets, and most wooded areas, as well as on wild deer and rodents. 

Lyme disease is a seasonal condition, because the carrier ticks require a very specific climate to survive. Tick season usually begins once temperatures rise above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity reaches at least 38 percent. In the US, Lyme disease is most common in the Northeast, especially in the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. While cases are reported in every state, nearly a third of all reported and recorded cases of Lyme disease come out of Pennsylvania. 

However, the total extent of Lyme disease in the US is not known. Diagnostic tests are unreliable, and long-term symptoms of the disease can sometimes be misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. While the bullseye rash, erythema migrans, is the most striking characteristic of an infection with B. burgdorferi, at least one in five people don’t develop the rash. Tick bites are also hard to notice, and most people don’t realize they’ve been infected until symptoms start to develop. 

 

Lyme Disease Neurological Symptoms and Treatment Options - Lyme Mexico

 

Lyme Disease Neurological Symptoms

When the body is infected with B. burgdorferi by a tick bite, the bacterium travels throughout the body, causing immune reactions to the spirochetes as they settle in various tissues. Most symptoms of Lyme disease are the result of these immune reactions. The bacterium itself does not produce a toxin, as far as known research has shown. 

Most symptoms of Lyme disease are concentrated in the joints, heart, skin sites, and nervous system. Some of the most severe symptoms are neurological, attacking the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. These can include: 

  • Meningitis: This is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, causing severe headaches, neck stiffness, and sensitivity to light.
  • Facial Palsy (Bell’s Palsy): This is a paralysis or weakness on one side of the face, causing drooping features and difficulties with speech. 
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Numbness, tingling, or pain, usually beginning in the extremities (hands and feet). 
  • Radiculopathy: Pain caused by inflammation of the nerve roots stemming from the spinal cord, often coinciding with numbing and referred pain (i.e., radiating pain in one leg, one arm, or just the ribs).
  • Cognitive Dysfunction: Memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and mental fog.

In addition to neurological symptoms, Lyme disease can also affect mood, sleep quality, and cause persistent lethargy or fatigue. Researchers today believe that some people infected with Lyme disease may develop a long-term damaging inflammatory response to the bacterium, similar to an autoimmune disease. Symptoms can mimic conditions like lupus and fibromyalgia. 

Treatment Options for Lyme Disease

Immediate first-line treatment for diagnosed Lyme disease is an antibiotic course. This helps kill the bacterium, and if caught early enough, it can prevent long-term symptoms. 

Antibiotic Treatment

Antibiotic treatment only work in the short-term. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria require a different treatment approach, and long-term antibiotic treatment carries a range of severe consequences for very little to no payoff in the treatment of Lyme disease. Oral antibiotic treatment would commonly include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime for early stages or mild neurological involvement.

Symptomatic Treatment

In addition to neurological symptoms, Lyme disease can cause chronic pain, changes in mood, problems with sleep quality, and even seizures in cases of severe neurological damage and inflammation. 

Managing these symptoms through pain medication, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and non-contraindicative sleep aids such as melatonin can help patients improve their quality of life while combatting chronic Lyme disease. 

Adjunct Therapies

As with other autoimmune conditions, Lyme disease can affect fatigue levels, as well as general mobility and daily wellbeing. Many people affected by post-treatment Lyme disease complain of a drop in fitness levels, arthritis, and muscle aches. Professional physical and occupational therapy can help improve mobility and daily functioning, at home and at work. 

The mental impact of a Lyme disease diagnosis is considerable – aside from the brain fog, the loss of quality of life can affect mood, and contribute to depressive symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of talk therapy can help ease the mental burden. 

Oxidation Treatment

We offer different forms of oxidation treatment for Lyme disease, including ozone therapy, which involves introducing ozone into the body to improve oxygenation and immune response. 

Hyperthermia

Another treatment option for combatting Lyme disease is a medically induced and carefully controlled fever, which may help kick the body’s own immune system into overdrive. 

Supplementation

In addition to physical and mental therapy, treatment outcomes for long-term Lyme disease may be improved through the use of supplement protocols, including vitamins and minerals. 

Monitoring and Follow-Up

In cases of post-treatment Lyme disease, it’s important to schedule follow-ups with your treatment provider, set up markers of improvement to track positive developments during your treatment plan, and utilize regular monitoring to adjust the treatment if necessary. 

Conclusion

As a result of rapid changes in the global climate, increases in deer populations, and successful reforestation efforts, Lyme disease cases are growing at an alarming rate – especially in wooded areas with mild winters and high humidity. The symptoms of Lyme disease can be severe and debilitating, especially when they affect the nervous system. But with prompt and appropriate treatment, many patients can see significant improvements. 

Consider traveling outside of the country to meet with a top clinic, Lyme Mexico. The Lyme Mexico Clinic can meet all your diagnostic and treatment needs. Learn more about Lyme disease or schedule an evaluation. We can discuss your symptoms and the alternative treatment options that work.

 

Lyme Disease Neurological Symptoms and Treatment Options - Lyme Mexico

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