Lyme Disease

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What is Lyme disease?

Initially discovered 30 years ago in Lyme, Connecticut, Lyme disease has become the undiagnosed and untreated epidemic of the 21st century. While it is often attributed to tick bites, recent studies have also shown that it may also be transmitted by mosquitos. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the spirochete (Borrelia burgdorferi) which can mimic virtually any disease often leading to misdiagnosis such as CFS, Fibromyalgia, MS, depression, bipolar, Alzheimer’s, and ALS.

Lyme disease is a serious condition affecting multiple areas of the body with symptoms appearing within 1-2 weeks after being bitten and often begin with a telltale red rash, or a “bulls-eye” ring, usually, although not exclusively, around the site of the bite.

How is it transmitted?

Most commonly, Lyme disease is transmitted through a bite from a specific type of tick, particularly deer ticks or black-legged tick, which is known to feed and mate on deer during part of their life cycle. Deer ticks have been found to be infected with these spiral-shaped bacterium or spirochete.

The recent growth of the deer population in the northeast and the building of suburban developments in rural areas where deer ticks are commonly found have probably contributed to the increasing number of people with the disease. The number of reported cases of Lyme disease, as well as the number of geographic areas in which it is found, has been increasing over the years but most cases have been found in the geographic areas of the coastal northeast, Mid-Atlantic States, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and northern California.

What symptoms do I look for?

Typical symptoms that you might experience include swelling of lymph nodes near the tick bite, flu-like symptoms, such as neck stiffness, chills, fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint/tendon pain. You may also experience a large, expanding skin rash around the area of the tick bite. In more advanced disease, nerve problems and arthritis, especially in the knees, may exist, tingling or numbness in the extremities and even facial paralysis may also occur.

What happens if my symptoms persist?

Even with treatment, your recovery may vary and you may experience lingering symptoms long after treatment ends, referred to as chronic Lyme disease, and often results in severe fatigue which can be prolonged and very debilitating. You may have bouts of excessive sleeping or in some cases, insomnia. The level of fatigue may vary.  You could experience intermittent fatigue, fatigue after exertion, as well as fatigue that causes you to be bedridden. Lyme disease fatigue is NOT the same as simply being tired from overwork or stress. Much like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme often causes a profound exhaustion that is significantly worse than what is seen in other illnesses.

As with many chronic conditions, symptoms can be complex and severe chronic Lyme disease can lead to debilitating symptoms, other than fatigue, such as depression, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, weakness, or twitching. It can also be associated with neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease). The infection can often also result in hormonal deficiencies, abnormal activation of coagulation and immune dysfunction, which can all contribute to the cause of symptoms.

Why can’t my doctors diagnose me with Lyme disease?

You’re not alone! Many of our patients who come to us with chronic Lyme disease complain of ‘strange’ or ‘weird’ symptoms that could not be explained even after numerous doctor visits and many times were told by their physician it is psychological or hypochondrial in nature. Although a tick bite is an important clue for diagnosis, often times our patients don’t recall ever being bitten by a tick. This is not surprising because the tick is tiny, and a tick bite is usually painless.

Additionally, because the symptoms are so variable and they mimic the symptoms of other chronic conditions, most doctors do not even think of testing for Lyme disease much less providing any kind of treatment. In the rare instance testing is done, however, standard tests miss over 90% of chronic Lyme disease cases. The problem with these tests is that they are designed to detect acute Lyme disease and are very poor at detecting chronic Lyme disease. Additionally, many doctors (infectious disease, internists, family practice, etc.) rely on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) criteria to define a positive test. This criterion was never meant to be used for diagnosis, but rather for tracking data.

How do we test differently for Lyme disease?

Laboratory testing can be an important aid in the diagnosis of Lyme disease. However, proper use and interpretation of laboratory tests requires physicians that understand these tests and have specialized training of the type of test, the stage of illness, and the underlying likelihood that you have the disease. Many doctors simply do not have this level of understanding.

At Holtorf Medical Group, we are now able to provide you with the answers you are looking for. A newly developed and validated Lyme disease culture test from renowned Lyme disease specialist Joseph Burrascano,  is now available and offers hope by providing you with a more thorough test in both the initial diagnosis as well as follow-up when symptoms sometimes linger, often showing the bacteria is still present.

How does this new culture test work?

Most tests for chronic infections look for the body’s response to the infection, or antibody production, as opposed to the actual infection. In order to prove there is an active infection, it is necessary to culture or ‘grow’ the infection from the patient’s blood. Until recently, there was no such culture available for Lyme disease because Lyme could not be grown outside the body like other bacteria.  The new test shows that the lingering effects are not due to post-Lyme syndrome, but are rather due to the presence of active Lyme disease that was inadequately treated. This new breakthrough will help patients, like you, suffering from Lyme by providing more thorough treatment options.

How do I get successful treatment of Lyme disease?

Often times, those who were properly diagnosed with Lyme disease were treated with the standard treatment of a few weeks of antibiotics. The sooner such therapy is begun following infection, the quicker and more complete the recovery. But this treatment approach does not always allow for complete recovery and symptoms may linger.

In these cases, patients who still suffered from symptoms were told they had post-Lyme syndrome, which was thought to simply be lingering effects after the Lyme bacteria had been eradicated. Treatment can be very problematic as the bacteria can transform from the standard cell wall form to a non-cell wall form (l-form) and also into a treatment resistant cyst. Standard antibiotic treatments are ineffective against the L-forms and cystic forms that are usually present in chronic Lyme disease. Consequently, the usual 2-4 weeks of intravenous or oral antibiotics are rarely of any benefit. The use of longer courses of oral or intravenous antibiotics for months or even years is often ineffective as well if used as the sole major therapy.

So how is Holtorf Medical Group different?

Our multi-system integrative approach can dramatically increase the likelihood of successful treatment. This includes using a combination of synergistic antibiotics that are effective against the l-forms and cystic forms, immune modulators, directed anti-Lyme supplements, anticoagulants, hormonal therapies and medications that increase the effectiveness and penetration of antibiotics into the various forms of the Borrelia spirochete. With your commitment to regaining your health, specialized testing, and this multi-system integrative treatment approach, we can achieve the outcome you deserve.

Is there a link between Lyme disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

In some cases, yes. In addition to those suffering from Lyme disease, our new test has also proved to be important to those suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), including substantial problems with short-term memory or concentration, sleep dysfunction, and feeling worse with exercise or stress – many of the same symptoms mentioned earlier. The new test shows that a significant number of patients diagnosed with CFS actually have chronic Lyme disease.

In the past, while we had good evidence that chronic Lyme disease was a significant cause of CFS, we could not prove it. Until the new test was developed, there was no definitive way to detect the presence of chronic Lyme disease, so there was a significant controversy regarding its very existence and therefore, its relation to CFS. But that’s all changed. We are finding that approximately 30% of those with the most severe symptoms of CFS, especially those with significant neurological symptoms, are actually suffering from chronic Lyme disease.

Lyme disease Specialists

You don’t have to live with these life-altering symptoms.  It’s time to get the answers and treatment you deserve.  Call us today at 877-508-1177 and schedule an appointment with one of our specially trained physicians.

Want to know more?

Understanding your health and options can greatly improve your chance of successful recovery. Our handouts can give you valuable information to empower you with knowledge and to share with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and positive treatment outcome.

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