Lyme Disease and Tick-Borne Co-Infections
Facts and Figures
Lyme Disease is the most common tick-borne disease reported in the U.S. and Europe with a widely understood effect on the nervous system. Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia species of bacteria, with the strain Borrelia Burgdorferei being the most commonly identified in most cases in the US. Other strains such as Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii have been identified as the primary cause of Lyme Disease in Europe and Asia.
Health issues associated with Lyme disease can be different depending on the stage of the infection.
Common complaints include neurological symptoms such as focal nerve abnormalities, such as seen in Bell’s Palsy, peripheral neuritis or pain in the joints and limbs, and Lyme encephalopathy (brain inflammation).
The Three Main Stages of Lyme Disease include:
- Roughly 300,000-400,000 cases of CHRONIC Lyme disease in the US.
- The incidence of Lyme disease is higher in children and young adults.
- The highest number of cases reported in people between the ages of 5-14 and 15-24
- It is also important to note that the current data is likely to represent an underestimation, as many cases of Lyme disease go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
- Lyme is considered the “Great Imitator.”
- Symptoms may appear a few hours to weeks after a tick bite
- Easy to cure at this stage
- Skin rash, sometimes in a bull’s eye pattern
- Flu-like symptoms (chills, fever, fatigue, headache, stiff neck, muscle pain, joint pain, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes)
- Occurs several weeks to months after tick bite
- Bacteria spreading throughout the body
- Flu-like symptoms (chills, fever, headache, fatigue)
- Pain, weakness, or numbness in arms, legs
- Vision changes
- Heart problems (palpitations, chest pain)
- Rash on body
- Facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy)
- Occurs weeks, months, or years after tick bite if not treated effectively in the first two stages
- Bacteria have spread throughout the body
- Chronic arthritis
- Neurological and cardiac symptoms (severe headaches, vertigo, dizziness, migrating pains, stiff neck, sleep disturbances, heart rhythm disturbances, mental fogginess, numbness in limbs, concentration issues, fatigue)
Current Approaches to treatment
of Lyme Disease:
The treatment of Lyme disease is constantly advancing and can be complicated. Those who receive the right antibiotics during the initial stages of the disease typically recover fully and quickly. However, a small percentage of patients may still experience symptoms such as fatigue and muscle aches (known as post-Lyme disease syndrome). Some experts speculate that some individuals may have a predisposition to an autoimmune response, contributing to their symptoms.
Common oral antibiotics used for treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin, and cefuroxime axetil. In cases of neurological or cardiac illness, intravenous treatment may be necessary. Approximately 80% of patients are cured with antibiotics. If the initial treatment does not work, patients may receive additional antibiotics through oral or intravenous methods.
Early disseminated Lyme disease, which occurs when the infection goes untreated, can be treated with oral antibiotics for symptoms like facial palsy and abnormal heart rhythms. Intravenous antibiotics are recommended for more severe cases, such as meningitis or heart problems. Late-stage Lyme may require oral or intravenous antibiotics.
Antibiotics have been proven to effectively treat Lyme disease, but some individuals with unexplained symptoms or chronic conditions may believe they have the disease even if it has not been diagnosed. As a result, they may turn to alternative treatments for relief.
The clients we typically see in our practice have often developed chronic neurological symptoms despite traditional treatments.
Current Approaches to treatment of Lyme Disease:
In the U.S., Lyme disease is the most widespread illness transmitted by ticks, but there are several other infections that can be spread through pets, ticks, wildlife, and environmental conditions. This list includes the following:
- Borrelia Miyamotoi
- Rocky Mountain Spotted
- Borrelia Mayonii
- Colorado Tick Fever
- Heartland Virus
- Powassan Virus
- Q Fever
- Relapsing Fever
- Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness
- Tick-Borne Encephaliti
- Tick Paralysis
- Alpha-Gai Meat Allergy
- Epstein-Barr Virus
Resources for more Reading: