Lyme disease is the number one vector-borne, and the number 2 infectious disease in the United States. So, why are we talking about this more? It is obviously an epidemic, but you don’t hear about it on the news or in social circles.
Other epidemics, like alcohol and drug abuse, obesity, heart diseases and cancer are given a lot of media time. Maybe the media doesn’t think Lyme disease can kill you. Maybe people think Lyme disease doesn’t devastate you physically and mentally.
Maybe they don’t know the whole truth about Lyme disease.
Below you will find comprehensive information about Lyme including the trouble with diagnosis, real signs and symptoms that you may find shocking, and the truth about treatment of the disease.
The Real Statistics
The Center for Disease Control estimates there are over 350,000 new cases of Lyme diagnosed every year. And those are just the diagnosed cases.
Many people have Lyme disease and don’t even know it. Well, they know it, but the one blood test used by most doctors is faulty 50% of the time. This happens because the test only searches for antibodies, not the actual bacteria.
So, when the test comes back false, the patient starts to question their own intuition. They question how well they know their own body. They question their sanity.
Along with all this questioning comes guilt. They are told they have don’t have a medical problem and that they do not have Lyme, all because of faulty testing. They spend hours, days and weeks feeling guilty for having symptoms they shouldn’t have.
The Wrong Diagnosis
Some patients are given a diagnosis, but it is the wrong one. Lyme disease can mimic other diseases like multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, MLS, fibromyalgia, arthritis, diabetes and other auto-immune disorders. It can even look like mental health disorders like depression.
In addition, some doctors are firm in their belief that a bulls-eye shaped rash must have been present to signal an infection. This is false and leads to misdiagnosis. Not every will have a rash. Some people can have a rash, but it may not be a bullseye. Some people may have a rash and not know because of it appearing only for a short time, or in a place that is hidden on the body.
Family doctors are simply not literate about Lyme disease.
It is unfortunate that with the information available today, the advancements in detecting and treating Lyme disease has not shown rapid progress.
Real Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Symptoms can appear and vary in stages. When you first get Lyme disease, you may just feel like you have the flu. Headaches, sore throat and maybe swollen lymph nodes.
As the weeks and months go by, your flu-like symptoms may now include pain in the joints or in your chest. You may experience weakness or numbness in your arms or legs. Some have even had episodes of bell’s palsy.
Symptoms can continue to worsen and include extreme fatigue, arthritis, muscle pain, vertigo, sleep disorders and mental confusion or memory loss.
It’s possible you could have symptoms of Lyme but because they seem odd or minimal, you don’t make the connection.
Hoarseness or losing your voice, night sweating, twitching, anxiety, depression, mood swings, abnormal heart rhythms, and even overactive or painful bladder. Lyme can also cause you to be overly sensitive to smells, chemicals, and a sensitivity to or allergy related to foods that you didn’t have before.
The key to connecting symptoms to Lyme disease is to document when you have the symptoms, which will come and go inconsistently.
If your doctor puts you on antibiotics and you while on them, you notice your symptoms improve, this could be a sign you have Lyme disease.
Lyme disease can cause seizures in some patients. Skin sensitivities, light sensitivity, clumsiness, and panic attacks have been present in some sufferers. And there is something called vulvodynia in which women feel pain or negative sensations in their genital areas that has been associated with having Lyme.
Latest Information on Lyme Disease
Researchers are working to develop better testing tools to detect Lyme disease.
Antibiotic treatment is the first course of action. Until recently, doctors have given patients antibiotics up to 14 days. Reports today show antibiotics should be given for a minimum of 21 days and up to 28 days.
Ticks are not the only way to contract Lyme disease. Mosquitos, fleas, and mites can carry the bacteria that leads to Lyme. If they bite a human, that bacteria can enter the human’s bloodstream where it will grow and develop the disease.
Lyme disease is often accompanied by a co-infection, or separate infections. This causes problems when doctors are trying to diagnose and treat.
Research is showing that some, even after being treated with antibiotics, are unable to rid their bodies of Lyme. In men, testicular or pelvic pain may appear.
Get the Right Treatment
Your doctor will likely want you to be tested using the standard lab tests. The ELISA and the Western Blot Test will test for antibodies of the bacteria. Your doctor may want to put you on antibiotics even if your bloodwork says you do not have Lyme disease.
Getting the right treatment means finding a Lyme literate doctor. If your go-to physician is not well-versed in Lyme disease, get a second opinion.
Your second opinion should be from a doctor who understands Lyme, has kept up to date with trends in Lyme studies, and who knows how to identify and treat co-infections. They can provide services like apheresis, parasitic inactivation, IV therapies, and multiple detox programs, all of which can help ease symptoms of Lyme disease.
Don’t wait to reach out for help from professionals who can work aggressively to keep Lyme from spreading, giving you back the active, health and happy lifestyle you deserve.