A Troubling Lyme Tale
Lyme disease is one of the fastest-growing infectious diseases in the U.S. It is caused by a bite from a deer tick that carries the Borrelia Burgdorferi (Bb) bacteria.
The deer tick is the size of a small freckle and attaches itself to areas that are moist and warm, such as the groin, abdomen, behind the knees and the back of the neck. Because the infected tick is so small, one may not know they've been bitten. It simply attaches itself, remains for 48 to 72 hours, may become engorged and falls off.
A troubling fact is that many infected people do not know they have Lyme disease until it develops into a chronic illness, because they don't know they've been bitten by a tick.
Lyme Disease Symptoms
One to four weeks after being infected, symptoms may appear. Few develop the classic bull's-eye rash, which is usually the first telltale sign. Other symptoms may be:
- joint problems
- extreme fatigue
- weakness or numbness of the limbs
- memory loss
- difficulty thinking
- night sweats
- heart palpitations
- Bell's palsy
- severe pain
- difficulty sleeping
- hormonal changes
- low-grade fever
Symptoms may resemble other illnesses and are often misdiagnosed, such as:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- iirritable bowel syndrome
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- restless leg syndrome
- multiple sclerosis
With some, symptoms can appear immediately or not surface until some time later. It can be years before symptoms are severe enough to seek treatment and there can be long-term effects due to the chronic nature of this illness when not treated early.
It is not uncommon for people with Lyme disease to have been seen by several physicians with a variety of ailments over the years as the disease travels through the body causing various symptoms. They leave physician offices with either no diagnosis or a misdiagnosis, only to find out later it was indeed Lyme disease that had invaded their bodies.
Lyme Disease Diagnosis and Treatment
There is no one test that can be used to diagnose Lyme disease, which is why the Centers for Disease Contol (CDC) left it up to the treating physician to make the diagnosis based on their own clinical findings. For early Lyme disease recovery, up to 30 days of antibiotics are recommended for treatment.
When Lyme Disease Becomes Chronic
Guidelines set out by the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) and approved by the CDC recommend 30 days of antibiotics to treat chronic Lyme disease. Many physicians disagree on this point, stating that medical research indicates the use of long-term antibiotics as necessary to treat the chronic form of this disease. There was a study done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that backs up findings for long-term use of antibiotics. Because the CDC and IDSA disagree with the long-term use of antibiotics for chronic Lyme disease, some insurance companies deny coverage.
Information and Support for Lyme Disease
For information on Lyme disease, we've found a wonderful resource and physician who backs up his findings with research, Dr. Joseph Jemsek. Dr. Jemsek has a practice in South Carolina. He is a compassionate physician who offers hope to those suffering from Lyme disease.
Contact Dr. Jemsek