Each year, Lyme disease infects nearly half a million people. Lyme disease is known for its laundry list of symptoms, but you’re probably familiar with the more common symptoms that affect the Central Nervous System. Many people are suffering with gut-related Lyme issues that can lead to many other health concerns.
Gastrointestinal Symptoms of Lyme
The gastrointestinal symptoms of Lyme are usually due to Lyme triggering other intestinal diseases, inflammation in the gut, or as a result of antibiotic use. Plus, Lyme affects the immune system, and about 80% of your immune system is located in your gut!
Gastrointestinal symptoms of Lyme look like:
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Abdominal Discomfort
- Triggered Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)
Additionally, Lyme bacteria can infect the gastrointestinal tract, causing not only digestive issues, but immune dysregulation. That means a higher chance of chronic infection.
The difficult thing about these symptoms is that many do not realize that the underlying root cause is actually Lyme disease. Lyme disease may be the answer to why you still feel unwell even with treatment. Lyme disease also makes it harder to treat gut issues, even if they aren’t initially related to your Lyme infection.
Lyme & SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth)
Almost 70% of those with Lyme disease have SIBO! Lyme bacteria infection in the intestine disturbs the normal flow of bacteria in your gut which invites bacteria to overgrow. When there is an overgrowth of bacteria either from ingestion or from the large intestine to the small intestine, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort occur.
It should be noted that while antibiotics are most commonly used to treat Lyme, vigorous use of antibiotics can also be the cause of bacterial overgrowth on the small intestine.
Lyme & Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky Gut Syndrome, otherwise known as small intestine hyperpermeability, occurs when there is an enlargement of the space between cells that line the small intestine. Thus, bacteria and unwanted food particles can enter the bloodstream, triggering the immune system to remove them.
This inflammation (inflammatory response) in the gut can lead to many of the symptoms you see with Lyme and inflammation, such as headaches, joint pain, fatigue, and more. It can be hard to distinguish if Lyme is the cause of your Leaky Gut Syndrome because the symptoms are so similar.
Lyme & Constipation
Constipation is very common and can easily be overlooked. However, constipation occurs in Lyme patients when “the nerves that innervate the intestines can be affected causing a decrease in the muscular wave of contractions that usually move the contents of the intestines downstream.” (Dr. Todd Maderis)
How to Treat Lyme & Gut Issues
Continue your current Lyme protocol, working to detoxify the body of Lyme pathogens and boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation. Gut supplements may help provide relief and support a healthy digestive tract.
If you have gut issues, Lyme may be the cause. We hope that learning about the gastrointestinal symptoms of Lyme disease can help provide needed answers and lead to a more accurate treatment plan. If you believe the root cause of your gut issues may be due to Lyme, consult a healthcare practitioner.
Chronic Lyme affects the entire body. Learn more about the symptoms of Lyme.