Lyme Basics

Lyme Disease Basics

A beginners guide to Lyme Disease

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection most often transmitted through a tick bite. (Many report other ways of infection.) In Lyme cases, usually a deer or blacklegged tick carries with it the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi and passes it on to a person when biting into their skin. Once infected, one may begin to experience a wide variety of symptoms which often makes Lyme difficult to recognize as its symptoms mimic other diseases.

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How Prevalent is Lyme?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that tickborne diseases more than doubled in 13 years and that Lyme disease accounts for 82% of all tick-borne cases, making it the most common of tick-borne diseases, surpassing Rocky Mountain spotted fever; and West Nile, dengue and Zika virus diseases. In fact, the CDC estimates the number of yearly Lyme cases to be about 476,00 per year, and growing. (It should be noted that this study was conducted by reviewing insurance records. Many people have Lyme but never receive a formal diagnosis.) This is a conservative estimate possibly due to the number of unreported cases, possible misdiagnosis and that the most recent data trends are from 2018.

Read about why we are seeing a rise in Lyme disease.

How is Lyme diagnosed?

Lyme disease is challenging to identify, as it has many seemingly unrelated and debilitating symptoms. Additionally, Lyme is extremely difficult to formally diagnose, so many go misdiagnosed, or even undiagnosed for years, turning their acute Lyme into Chronic Lyme over time.

Doctors may begin with your medical history, questions about possible exposure to ticks, and a physical exam.

A blood test is conducted to test for Lyme. These tests usually take a week or two to get results back. However, about half of people test with false positives, and these tests cannot distinguish between old and new strains of the virus.

Can I have Lyme without the rash?

Yes. Not everyone who is diagnosed with Lyme disease has the characteristic bullseye rash, and some report having a rash that does not resemble a bullseye.

What are the symptoms of Lyme?

Early symptoms can include

  • A bullseye-shaped rash at the location of the tick’s bite
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • And so much more

Additionally, brain fog, neuropathy, swollen lymph nodes, neck pain irregular heartbeat, facial palsy and depression can also occur later. (https://familydoctor.org/condition/lyme-disease/)

If you’re unsure if your symptoms are normal, click here

What is Chronic Lyme?

When Lyme is detected and addressed early on it can often have positive outcomes; however, when someone’s Lyme remains undiagnosed or untreated it can turn into Chronic Lyme. Even when Lyme is treated early on, many still report persisting symptoms, along with co-infections. Chronic Lyme symptoms are often more severe than that of the early-stage Lyme and although they are treatable, they become more and more challenging to effectively manage.

You may hear the CDC and most specialists use a different term: post-treatment Lyme disease (PTLD).

Click to read about Chronic Lyme 101.
How to prevent Lyme Disease

7 tips for avoiding ticks (the organism which transmits Lyme Disease).

  1. Wear light colored clothing with a tight weave while outdoors. Since ticks can be very small, they can be hard to see and easy to fall through loose weave clothing.
  2. Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck your pants into your socks and tuck your shirt into your pants.
  3. When hiking or gardening, keep long hair tied up. Check your clothes and exposed skin for ticks frequently.
  4. Stay on cleared and well-traveled trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas. Avoid sitting on the ground or on stone walls. Don’t let your children jump into piles of leaves as these are all places ticks like to hide.
  5. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after being outdoors so you can easily find ticks you may have carried home.
  6. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 min after you come indoors.
  7. Consider using insect repellants according to label directions, but be aware that some types may cause eye and skin irritation.

Source: http://www.co.livingston.state.ny.us/951/Staying-safe-from-ticks

Learn more about how Lyme is transmitted.

How is Lyme treated?

Generally, those diagnosed with Lyme are served a regimen of antibiotics; however, many long-time Lyme sufferers have been left to wonder why they received so little results after following doctors’ orders. A profound study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 31, 2016 revealed Chronic Lyme disease is, in fact, not improved by conventional antibiotic therapy. 

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1505425

Lyme disease causing bacteria are able to build an immunity to such treatments over time, so if you are not able to start an antibiotic treatment immediately after infection this may be a frustrating and ineffective route.

We recommend supplements, such as colloidal silver, zeolite, and glutathione, that are gentle on the body that will help boost the immune system and detoxify your body.

What are the commonly prescribed tests?

According to Mayo Clinic, there are usually two tests performed to test for Lyme. The first one is the Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test. This test is used most often and detects antibodies to B. burgdorferi. However, false-positive results are common, so another test is used to confirm Lyme.

This test is called the Western blot test. The Western blot detects antibodies to several proteins of B. burgdorferi.

What are Coinfections?

When speaking about Lyme, the term coinfection is often used. Here, coinfections are referring to occurrences where the infected tick doesn’t simply pass on one infection such as Borrelia burgdorferi but multiple infections or diseases are transmitted simultaneously. Coinfections are very common.

Still feeling sick post-Lyme treatment? Keep reading.

Does Lyme Affect the Heart?

Yes. One of the biggest health concerns of Lyme disease is the potential for Lyme carditis, which occurs when Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria enters the tissues of the heart. This infection can interfere with electrical signals that coordinate the regular beating of the heart, resulting in what is called “heart block.”

While not every person with Lyme experiences Lyme carditis, many report of experiencing heart palpitations.

How do I show support to a friend with Lyme?

Each person is different, and we suggest asking them what they need. However, we have found that support often comes in the form of not judging, taking the time to learn about Lyme disease, and treating them how you would want to be treated if you had a chronic illness 

Click here for more ideas.

Why do they call it an invisible illness?

An invisible illness refers to an illness that is not visible to others, resulting in making both the illness and the person feel invisible. Lyme is considered an invisible illness because many people do not show obvious signs of being ill or in chronic pain. It is also considered an invisible illness because it is often not taken seriously by doctors or others.

Learn More

Is Lyme hard on relationships?

Yes. Romantic relationships suffer from financial burden, misunderstanding, and a transition period from what was once their normal. Parent-child relationships often suffer when the parent doesn’t have the energy to do what they once could.

Lyme is also very straining on your relationship with yourself. You may find that you feel Lyme grief and guilt as you mourn the life you once had and struggle to accomplish what you once were able to. Our community is here for you, and we value our relationship with each of you.

How can I spread awareness for Lyme disease?

There are many ways to spread awareness. You can share your Lyme story both in person and online. Take the time to educate those around you. Sign petitions and write to local leaders. Participate in Lyme community activities and events.

Click for more ideas.

How does Lyme feel?

Lyme is both mentally and physically taxing. While there are physical symptoms of Lyme that can include fatigue, headache, rash, fever, sweats, chills, muscle pain, joint pain, neck pain, sleep issues, nerve pain, facial palsy, brain fog and more, there is also depression, anxiety, psychosis, panic attacks, and loneliness.

Imagine it like this. You’re exhausted. You have the flu. You can’t remember what you were going to say. You have a hard time moving. You have the biggest headache of your life. You feel lonely, useless, and depressed. That is what Lyme disease feels like.

Is there anyone who understands?

It can be tough to be a Lymie and sometimes the only people who understand are the ones who are dealing with it, too. That is why we have a whole Lyme community to listen to and support one another.

Here are 13 things only a Lymie would understand

Will Lyme disease go away?

It is possible for Lyme to be eradicated in many cases. Unfortunately, many people are still left with an aged body and a severely compromised immune system. It is important for anyone who suspects they may have contracted Lyme to contact a Lyme literate doctor immediately. We additionally recommend you begin to support your immune system with natural ingredients such as silver, zeolite, and glutathione.

Can Lyme disease kill you?

Most people do not die due to Lyme but continue to live in chronic pain. Unfortunately, suicide rates in Lyme patients are high, which is why support is so important. If you are considering suicide, please reach out for help. Your life matters, and we are here for you. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.

Read More.

Lyme disease to dogs

Dogs can contract Lyme disease in the same way that humans can. If you believe your dog has Lyme, visit your veterinarian. While dogs can not give humans Lyme disease, they can bring infected ticks into your home.

Lyme disease near me?

Lyme disease has been reported in every state of the US.

Is there a vaccine for Lyme?

There is currently no vaccine for Lyme available to the public. However, one is projected to be available by the spring of 2023.

In 2002, Lyme vaccine LYMERix was taken off the market, and there has yet to be a successful vaccine available to the public.

Is it Lyme or something else?

Lyme is commonly misdiagnosed as: 

  • Fibromyalgia, Lupus
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • Autism, Migraines
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • ALS
  • Gastric Reflux
  • Irritable Bowel
  • Constipation
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Hiatal Hernia
  • Scleroderma
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Hashimoto’s/Hypothyroidism
  • Cushing’s/Addison’s Disease
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Diabetes
  • And more
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