Lyme and other tick borne disorders have been identified across the globe and are causing untold suffering and disabilities in millions of people every day. Statistics have shown that 300,000 to 500,000 cases of infected people are reported each year, twice as much as breast cancer cases and six times more than HIV/AIDS.
If you suffer from Lyme, you might be on a path through the complicated maze of multiple systemic disease diagnosis and management. You may have visited numerous doctors who incorrectly diagnosed you and offered inconclusive and inaccurate tests. This is because the conventional medical system lacks an understanding of and treatments for most chronic diseases.
A typical journey of a patient with Lyme begins with a primary care physician or a family doctor. A maximum of thirty days of antibiotics is the accepted standard of care in such situations. If patients report back that they are not getting better, they are likely diagnosed with other disorders, like “post Lyme syndrome,” chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. After a few other useless prescriptions, they are told to take it as it is and live with their symptoms. These practitioners usually believe that Lyme is an easily diagnosed and treatable condition. In reality, the lab tests are highly unreliable and standard treatments are often insufficient or incorrectly administered.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) strict surveillance definition was developed for national reporting of Lyme disease and is primarily used by health departments for epidemiological purposes. This definition is narrow, meaning that only a minority of actual cases will meet the strict criteria – experiencing a 5 cm or larger rash and at least one late, objective manifestation such as meningitis, cranial neuropathy, arthritis attack or AV block.
Moreover, Lyme presents itself in symptoms often misdiagnosed as Crohn’s Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Colitis, Encephalitis, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Cystitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Lupus, Prostatitis, Psychiatric Disorders (bipolar, depression), Sjogren’s Syndrome, sleep disorders, thyroid disease, and more.
To diagnose Lyme properly you must see a “Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD)“, who is knowledgeable in using the latest, most accurate lab tests and treatments. When it comes to Lyme disease, there shouldn’t be any standard, superficial approach. The most common standard treatment for acute infection with Borrelia is 2-4 weeks of oral antibiotics, often doxycycline. But about one-quarter of these patients—and a higher percentage of those who don’t get quick treatment—will develop a chronic infection that doesn’t respond to simple antibiotic therapy. Unfortunately, the CDC keeps denying that chronic Lyme exists. Some doctors don’t think Lyme bacteria survive after 30 days of antibiotic treatment, but many studies have shown that they can.
Many Lyme patients can’t properly heal themselves because their doctor hasn’t considered the presence of other multiple co-infections which weaken immunity, like bacterial, viral, parasitic, or fungal infections. Because of the complexity of this illness, the best approach is an integrative one that addresses both the infections directly and the systemic effects of the illness on the body.
It’s Not Only Ticks That Spread Lyme
Lyme is considered by the medical field to “only” transmit by way of a tick infected with bacteria. However, there is clear evidence of multiple ways of transmission for this infection, explaining why the disease is more common than one would think if only ticks were involved in transmission. Many experts believe now that mosquitoes and spiders are also able to transmit Lyme.
A study presented at the annual Western Regional Meeting of the American Federation for Medical Research showed that Lyme disease can be sexually transmitted. The researchers found traces of B. burgdorferi in the vaginal secretions of all women with Lyme disease and half of the men with the disease tested positive for the bacterium in semen samples. In addition, one of the heterosexual couples with Lyme disease were found to have identical strains of the bacterium in their genital secretions.
A North Carolina State University researcher has discovered that Bartonella (a common Lyme co-infection) can be passed from mothers to unborn babies, causing chronic infections and possibly birth defects.
Also, having pets like cats and dogs, can raise the risk of getting bitten by ticks, since they are commonly an easy target for these animals and they can also crawl on you. Ticks are usually very small, often hard to spot, and once they get on your body, they look for warm areas like the armpits, back of the knees or your neck.
A 2006 study by scientists affiliated with the CDC showed that for patients who were accurately diagnosed with Lyme disease and treated early in the course of infection, the annual burden of disease (BOD) was less than $1,500, usually for only one year. But for patients who were not diagnosed early, and who became progressively sicker, the annual BOD was over $16,000 per year, year after year. The study showed that 88 percent of the average annual cost of $16,199 for Lyme disease consisted of indirect medical costs, non-medical costs and productivity loss.
Insurance companies don’t want to admit that chronic Lyme disease even exists, so they are working very closely with the CDC to deny its existence. Insurance companies don’t want to spend money treating anything that is considered chronic. They don’t even want Lyme to be treated or recognized as an increasingly common issue.
Over half of the panelists who wrote the IDSA Lyme guidelines announcing that chronic Lyme is not real seem to have conflicts of interest, including financial interests in drug companies, diagnostic tests, and patents, as well as consulting agreements with insurance companies. Because of these unjust Lyme guidelines, insurance companies have the “right” to deny coverage for the treatment of long-term Lyme disease.
If you are infected, or suspect you might be suffering from Lyme, be your own advocate and continue to seek answers. You deserve the correct diagnosis and treatment!
For even more information on the complexity of this disease, watch this.