Patient Safety: Stop Dismissing Lyme Disease

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One can go years without realizing or being diagnosed with this debilitating, life-altering condition. Experts estimate that there are nearly 500,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year. As a global pandemic, it is important to sift through the mystery of Lyme disease and understand why it’s such a difficult condition to diagnose, how it impacts the body and the treatment methods available.

The Liar Known as Lyme

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by corkscrew-shaped bacteria called spirochete. This particular type of bacteria are incredibly effective at avoiding detection. Spirochetes can shift from their widely recognized spiral shape into four other forms: cystic, granular, L-form, and biofilm. By changing form, this bacterium is able to disguise itself as other substances leading to misdiagnosis or worse; going completely undetected.

Lyme disease is most frequently transferred by humans or other animals. The main culprits are ticks, specifically deer ticks or black legged ticks. Research has found that mosquitos may also be a carrier for this condition but that is still under debate. Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacterial spirochete, is the primary cause of Lyme disease. After one is bitten by a Borrelia burgdorferi carrier, the bacteria quickly spread through the bloodstream.

If one believes they may have a Lyme infection, their doctor may ask them to document their symptoms to aid in diagnosis. The following symptoms are associated with Lyme disease:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Bull’s-eye rash (may only be present in some patients)
  • Arthritis
  • Headaches
  • Night sweats
  • Tingling/numbness in the extremities
  • Flu-like symptoms (aches, fever, etc.)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Psychological disorders
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Neurological malfunction
  • Arrhythmias or other heart problems
  • Insomnia

In addition to these symptoms, patients may also experience multiple chronic infections. This can occur if the original bite transferred other co-infections from the carrier. These infections take advantage of the already weakened immune system and may lead to additional chronic conditions.

Common Confusions

There are numerous myths involving Lyme disease that are doing more harm than good. Debunking these falsities may increase awareness and improve one’s ability to recognize Lyme disease.

One of the trademark signs of Lyme disease is a “bulls-eye” shaped rash, usually located near the bite. What many don’t appreciate is that this rash can be in a hard to see area, such as under scalp hair, or may not appear at all! Although it is a good indicator of Lyme disease, it only appears on about 50% of patients. Therefore, one may still have the disease even if a rash is not present.

Some believe that Lyme disease treatment only includes a brief session with antibiotics. Although one may feel improved wellness after antibiotic treatment it is unlikely that the condition has been fully resolved. This disease can go dormant for extended periods only to return later after treatment has ceased. Defeating Lyme disease requires persistent integrative treatment, testing, and vigilance. Rarely does short-term treatment solve the problem.

Geographically, Lyme disease has been found in nearly every continent in the world. Unfortunately, there is an impression that some areas are risk-free when it comes to this condition. A common misconception is that the West coast is immune to outbreak. However, many cases have been recognized there. Furthermore, Northern California is considered a hotspot for ticks that have the capacity to transfer the disease. It is important to realize that one’s geographic location is not suitable protection when it comes to Lyme disease.

Under Tested and Undertreated

This condition has a history of being improperly or inadequately tested. Standard Lyme disease tests miss 90% of chronic cases. They have an improved rate of recognizing acute or early cases but even then, the numbers are not particularly satisfying.

An early indicator of the poor standard of testing methods involved “post-Lyme syndrome.” This was defined as patients experiencing a delayed resurgence of Lyme disease symptoms after their treatment was completed. We now know that “post-Lyme syndrome” is more likely the original condition that was simply not treated effectively. Lyme disease can enter a dormant state, making it seem as though patients are healthy, and then returning at a later time.

Most tests used for diagnosing Lyme disease are based off the presence of antibodies. Unfortunately, if one’s condition goes untreated for an extended period the immune system can become so weakened that it is unable to produce adequate antibodies. With severely reduced levels, doctors may not be able to recognize the presence of Lyme disease even though it is wreaking havoc on one’s defenses.

Finding the Right Treatment

Many expect a one-size fits all method of approaching Lyme disease treatment. Because of the complexity of the condition, the feasibility of achieving a broad, simplified method of dealing with Lyme disease is low. However, finding a Lyme-literate doctor who uses an integrative approach and utilizes a variety of diagnostic methods can significantly improve treatment quality. The best options available resolve both infections and systemic problems caused by Lyme disease. Some of the more relied on treatment options suggested by Lyme specialists include:

  • Antivirals
  • Antibiotics
  • Antiparasitics
  • Immune modulators
  • Hormone balancers
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Low Dose Immunotherapy
  • Moderate exercise
  • Reducing stress
  • Dietary changes
  • Improving sleep hygiene
  • Quitting smoking

It is widely understood that treatment is more effective the earlier it happens. Being aware of Lyme disease while also having a doctor who is well versed in the condition is critical for effective treatment.

As noted above, recognizing Lyme disease is just as important as treating it. Fortunately, a process known as Lyme disease culture testing has developed. This has increased the frequency of recognition in both preliminary and follow-up diagnosis. This method involves culturing Lyme disease from blood samples. If one can effectively culture or “grow” bacteria from the patient’s blood, it proves that it is present in their system. Until recently there was no culture available for Lyme disease. However, with this new method, doctors are able to more effectively asses the presence of infectious bacteria thereby allowing for improved Lyme disease diagnosis.

Ozone therapy is a relatively new treatment option that improves immune system efficacy without causing undue harm to the body. This treatment involves incorporating Co3, usually through IV, into the bloodstream. Ozone improves immune system and mitochondrial function, which aids in cellular regeneration and energy production. Because Lyme disease has a direct impact on cell health, improving their function and efficacy is useful in treating the condition. Furthermore, Lyme and other possible co-infections do not hide or become resistant to ozone, which is a major difficulty for standard antibiotic treatment.

Staying on the Lookout

Hopefully, with better understanding and appreciation for the tricky nature of Lyme disease you are better equipped to recognize it. Because this condition is exceptional at avoiding detection and is a master at masquerading as other conditions it is important to remain vigilant and aware. Being informed on the facts regarding Lyme disease is half the battle when it comes to dealing with this debilitating and deceptive condition.

About Holtorf Medical Group

The Holtorf Medical Group specializes in optimizing quality of life and being medical detectives to uncover the underlying cause of symptoms, rather than just prescribing medications to cover-up the symptoms. We are experts in natural, prescription bioidentical hormone replacement and optimization, complex endocrine dysfunction, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease.

We’ve dedicated our practice to providing you the best in evidenced-based, integrative medicine that’s not only safe and effective, but provides measurable results.