Two decisive factors ensure a correct diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. One is to find a deer tick on your body and notice where it bit you. The other is discovering an erythema migrans or the bullseye rash that often appears around the tick bite. Seeing either of these is a sign to seek medical treatment immediately. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics, and you will likely not experience additional Lyme disease symptoms.
The problem is that not everyone finds a tick or a rash on their body. The bullseye rash only appears in about 80% of Lyme disease cases. Ticks and rashes may hide in less visible places, such as under hair, private parts, or hard-to-reach spots. In addition, erythema migrans can appear in forms other than a bullseye, making it easy to mistake for something non-tick related.
Testing for Lyme Disease
In today’s medically advanced world, you may think accurate testing for Lyme disease exists. Unfortunately, the testing methods of general physicians are inaccurate much of the time. The Federal Drug Administration approved the ELISA and Western-Blot tests for Lyme disease. A doctor administers ELISA first, which tests for the antibodies of the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. If the ELISA results are positive for the antibodies, your doctor will administer the Western Blot test for confirmation.
The problem is that the ELISA and Western Blot tests are only accurate less than 60% of the time.
The reasons for such high inaccuracy include the following:
- It can take weeks or months for your body to develop antibodies to Lyme bacteria. If tested too soon, the results will be negative.
- Lyme bacteria are good at hiding from your immune system and antibody tests. They hide in cell walls and tissues.
- Bacteria go dormant or inactive and are not detectable during these times.
- Bacteria grow biofilms to protect themselves from detection.
Many people find themselves in a frustrating and painful scenario in which their Lyme disease test results are negative, but they indeed have Lyme disease. General physicians rarely move forward with additional testing if the initial results are negative. However, they attempt to treat your symptoms, which can mean prescribing multiple medications that do not get to the root of the problem.
What doctors should do is focus more on your symptoms.
Pay Attention to Your Symptoms
Lyme disease progresses in stages, each with symptoms that can interfere with how you function at home, work, school, and socially. Recognizing and documenting symptoms is one of the best ways to help you get an accurate diagnosis. It is still not a guarantee, however. It is common for general doctors to misdiagnose Lyme disease for other conditions.
Stages of Lyme Disease Symptoms
The reason for many misdiagnoses is that Lyme disease symptoms mimic other disorders’ symptoms. For example, here are the symptoms of stage one Lyme disease:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Stiff neck
Many doctors associate these symptoms with the flu. This mistake will lead to stages two and three of Lyme disease.
Symptoms in stages two and three are chronic and have a more significant impact on your daily functioning. You may experience all of the symptoms from stage one, plus the following:
- Bells palsy
- Joint pain and swelling
- Heart inflammation
- Numbness or tingling in hands or feet
- Cognitive dysfunction
When symptoms become chronic, doctors may match them to conditions like mental health disorders, fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases, Parkinson’s, or Multiple Sclerosis.
Sore Throat with Lyme Disease
In every stage of Lyme disease, you may experience a sore throat. Bacteria, including Lyme bacteria, can cause a sore throat or pharyngitis. Viruses can also cause a sore throat. It is crucial for your doctor to be able to determine the cause because treatments are very different.
Viruses are typically treated with rest and medicines to ease symptoms. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.
Symptoms of Sore Throat with Lyme Disease
Pain in your throat area is the most apparent symptom of a sore throat with Lyme disease. However, other symptoms may also appear, such as
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Runny nose or nasal congestion
- Irritated or red eyes
- Stiff neck
- Hard to swallow
- Swelling of tongue or neck
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
Sore Throat with Lyme Disease Co-Infections
The black-legged tick that transmits Lyme disease can also transmit co-infections that accompany Lyme disease. Hundreds of co-infections exist, but the ones most found alongside Lyme disease are Babesia, Bartonella, Rickettsia, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasma. In addition, the Powassan virus disease and Borrelia mylamotol may be present as a co-infection.
With all the co-infections, you may experience a sore throat.
Pay attention to your sore throat symptoms. When associated with Lyme disease and co-infections, you may feel a sore throat coming on for no apparent reason. You haven’t been around someone sick; you wash your hands often and do things to support your immune system. Yet, a sore throat appears. Just as quickly as it appears, it may disappear.
Because the sore throat can be relapsing, you may not consider seeking treatment for it. But treatment is needed since a recurring sore throat is a sign of a bigger problem.
Getting Treatment for Sore Throat with Lyme Disease
You deserve an accurate diagnosis and treatment for your sore throat caused by a bacterial infection. Therefore, seek help from an infectious and rare disease specialist called a Lyme-literate doctor. The benefits of doing so include the following:
- Advanced testing methods for an accurate diagnosis
- Treatments that go far beyond antibiotics
- Modern equipment to perform the latest effective procedures
- Use of the latest research in the industry
When searching for a Lyme-literate specialist, don’t limit yourself to doctors in the United States and Canada. There are excellent physicians in places like Mexico who can collaborate with stateside doctors throughout the process. Choose a doctor with the education, experience, and equipment to determine if your sore throat is connected to Lyme disease.
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