Lyme disease is the most famous tick-borne disease that is transmitted by ticks. Diagnosis is simple if migratory erythema occurs, but Lyme disease tests are often necessary. Symptoms of Lyme disease vary and depend on the severity of the disease. Treatment of Lyme disease is not complicated as long as it is diagnosed quickly. However, the chronic form can cause a lot of suffering. Check what are the symptoms of Lyme disease and what the treatment of Lyme disease looks like – according to the IDSA and ILADS standards.
Lyme disease (Latin borreliosis, morbus Lyme), or Lyme disease, tick-borne disease – because it is transmitted by ticks, is a relatively new disease – it has been diagnosed since the second half of the 1980s. Lyme disease has many different symptoms, and its treatment is possible through two different methods
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria classified as spirochetes – Borrelia burgdorferi – discovered in 1982 by W. Burgdorfer and Borrelia garinii, Borrelia afzelii, Borrelia japonica.
These bacteria can occur in several forms – as spirochetes, as well as in spore forms (e.g. cysts). The spirochetes are very mobile, while the spore forms are immobile, but they are resistant to some antibiotics that destroy the spirochetes.
Borrelia can penetrate human cells (macrophages, lymphocytes, fibroblasts) and survive there. Some types of Lyme disease cause joint ailments, others neurological. There are also bacteria that cause skin changes.
Lyme disease, caused by the spirochetes of the genus Borrelia burgdorferi, afzelii and garinii, is transmitted by Ixodes ticks.
Table of Contents
- Lyme disease – symptoms
- Lyme disease tests
- Lyme Disease Treatment – IDSA and ILADS Controversy
Lyme disease – symptoms
Lyme disease, regardless of its type and severity, attacks connective, muscle and nervous tissue.
Lyme disease – early phase
The first symptoms of the disease (early local, limited phase) develop within 1-3 weeks of the bite.
The so-called skin symptoms may appear. migratory erythema – redness with a diameter of a few to several centimeters, it may be slightly convex, warm, painful to the touch. The typical erythema after a tick bite is lighter than the inside.
Attention! Wandering erythema occurs in approx. 30%. cases of Lyme disease (only 10% of children).
Lyme pseudo-lymphoma, a painless inflammatory infiltrate at the tick bite site, is an alternative clinical picture of the first stage of Lyme disease. It occurs mainly on the ear lobe, nipple or scrotum.
Flu-like symptoms may appear during this phase. If antibiotics are not given, Lyme disease becomes disseminated.
Lyme disease – disseminated early phase
Secondary symptoms develop within 2 weeks to several months. In this phase, the spirochetes travel to various organs, using both the circulatory and lymphatic systems. Sometimes migratory erythema reappears – usually several, but smaller than the one that occurs in phase one. It may also occur:
- muscle aches
Moreover, depending on where the spirochetes find their way, cardiological, ophthalmic (e.g. iritis) or neurological symptoms (mainly nerve paralysis) may occur.
Lyme disease – late phase
In this phase, Lyme disease is more difficult to diagnose and treat, because it gives quite non-specific symptoms, and tick bites are usually not associated with them after a few years. Chronic Lyme disease can be latent for many years and do not give any symptoms, and at some point unexpectedly attack, for example, the nervous system, eyes, muscles or joints. It can also cause skin symptoms.
Even after the spirochetes have been eliminated, some patients still complain of pre-treatment symptoms. This does not mean, however, that it was ineffective, but rather that the spirochetes did permanent damage to the body, damaging either the joints or other organs. The list of symptoms of chronic Lyme disease is long. He appears, inter alia, neurological symptoms:
- sore throat
- muscle tics
- joint stiffness
The patient may see double, have facial muscles paralysis, dizziness, speech problems, spatial orientation.
Lyme disease of the nervous system, or neuroborreliosis, accounts for 15-40 percent of all cases of Lyme disease, and its symptoms can appear many years after a tick bite and increase over time. They are mainly:
- muscle tremors
- root pains
- flaccid paresis
- meningitis or encephalitis
- cranial nerve palsy
- problems with concentration and memory impairment
- symptoms of encephalopathy, i.e. intellectual disturbances (dementia) and abnormalities
According to an expert
Beata Kowalska-Werbowy, a doctor treating Lyme disease according to ILADS
What to do when a tick bites you?
It is a myth that it takes some time for an infection to pass from the moment of being bitten. I have patients who have removed a tick at the stage of its stabbing into the skin.
They were lucky because there was an erythema – a clear indicator of Lyme disease. Luck in the sense that, following the standard descriptions, if not for the erythema, the risk of Lyme disease would be eliminated by standard doctors looking at this disease.
The tick does not have to stick into the body, it is enough for it to deposit its feces on the skin and this can cause infection. The habitat of the bacteria is the content of the tick’s digestive tract.
If it bites us, take it out, for example, with a special syringe generating vacuum (from the pharmacy).
If someone removes it by hand, put on disposable gloves so that it does not get infected.
The tick can be sent for a PCR test for Lyme disease (or a full panel: Lyme disease plus co-infections) to CB DNA in Poznań.
Then we can wait for the tick test result or start antibiotic therapy until a negative result is obtained, which is not a mistake, because all of Poland is considered an endemic area for Lyme disease.
If the result is negative, we stop the treatment; if it is positive, we continue: according to the standard – up to 3 weeks in total, and according to doctors treating according to ILADS – with a much higher dose for at least 6 weeks.
Two days after the bite, blood can also be sent for PCR testing for Lyme disease. If erythema occurs, the duration of this treatment is extended to 6-8 weeks.
You can read about what other symptoms of Lyme disease can be in the articles:
- Lyme arthritis – symptoms and treatment
- Lymphatic borreliosis – causes, symptoms, treatment
- Complications after Lyme disease – neurological, articular and cardiac
- Lyme disease in children – symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
Lyme disease tests
Unfortunately, none of the available tests can 100 percent. exclude or confirm Lyme disease. Blood serological tests are based on the detection of IgM and IgG antibodies to Borrelia.
Unfortunately, antibodies do not appear in the serum until several weeks after infection, when the disease has long progressed. In addition, bacteria can spread (from the blood into the synovial fluid or central nervous system) and the levels of antibodies in the blood drop. So it happens that in patients who have live spirochetes in the body, the test result is negative.
In Poland, the most popular ELISA test – often false-negative – is 30 percent reliable. cases.
The more sensitive test (70% reliability) is the Western Blot test, but it can be done at least 3 weeks after the bite.
The most accurate diagnosis is provided by PCR, which is a test that looks for the DNA of bacteria (in blood or urine, joint or cerebrospinal fluid). They can be done in several places in Poland a few days after the bite, because it is not related to antibodies.
Most often, the diagnosis is made on the basis of clinical symptoms, after excluding other diseases.
Often, Lyme disease, especially chronic, is confused with diseases such as:
- multiple sclerosis
- lupus erythematosus
Lyme Disease Treatment – IDSA and ILADS Controversy
Reliable diagnostics would make Lyme disease treatable immediately. The sooner therapy is started, the shorter it is and the greater the chance of a full recovery.
A quickly cured disease leaves no damage to the body. For now, we cannot count on a vaccine against this disease.
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. In some patients, treatment of Lyme disease takes one and a half years, and in others only a few weeks. Where does this difference come from?
The reason is not the form of Lyme disease, but the fact that the disease lasts before a correct diagnosis is made. According to our procedure (according to IDSA – American Society of Infectious Diseases), it is believed that after a short antibiotic treatment, Lyme disease is defeated once and for all.
If the patient still feels unwell, he or she is simply suffering from the so-called post-reliever syndrome. There are no indications then for antibiotic treatment. Symptomatic treatment is provided when he is stubborn.
Doctors associated in another association – ILADS are of the opposite opinion. They believe that Lyme disease should be treated with long and complex antibiotic therapy, and the duration of treatment is determined individually. A short series of antibiotics only immunizes the bacteria.
Lyme disease is a relatively young disease, it has not been fully understood yet.
Often a patient who has been struggling with Lyme disease for years (healed or not at all diagnosed) is sent to a psychiatrist (sometimes it happens that this specialist detects the real cause of suffering – Lyme disease).
At best, the patient hears that he is a hypochondriac, delusional. Such patients are saved by doctors specializing in Lyme disease, because … they have experienced this disease themselves and tried the therapy on themselves. Which, of course, does not mean that sometimes many years of antibiotic therapy makes sense.
Worse: after suffering from Lyme disease, you do not develop immunity. It only remains to protect yourself from ticks by all available methods (clothing, repellants).
Tick-borne diseases: Lyme disease, babesiosis, bartonellosis, TBE and others
Herbs for Lyme disease – Buhner’s herbal therapy (Protocol)
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