What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a chronic infection that can cause a multitude of serious and significant conditions.
History of Lyme disease
Lyme disease was named after the town it was first discovered in, Lyme Connecticut. It is caused by an infection by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi that has classically been transmitted by tick bites. As many as half the ticks in the US carry the disease. Historically it has been prevalent in the Northeast part of the country, but in recent years has begun to spread to many different areas, and the disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states and around the world.
Causes of Lyme disease
As mentioned above, Lyme disease is classically caused by an infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgorferi. Unfortunately, that particular bacteria is rarely a solo player and likes to hang around with several other bacteria that can cause use as many or more symptoms than the Borrelia. Common co-infections include other species of Borrelia, Bartonella, Babes, Ehrlicia, Mycoplasma and others. Each can cause chronic symptoms and problems in their own right.
Symptoms of Lyme disease
After the initial tick bite, people can initially feel fine but over the next couple of weeks get some flu-like symptoms - possible fever, aching, chills, not feeling good, etc. Sometimes at the tick bite there will be a rash which appears like a "bullseye" and is diagnostic for Lyme. Unfortunately not everyone gets the rash, making diagnosis more difficult. During this early stage the infection is relatively easy to treat with antibiotics.
After about 2-3 weeks the symptoms disappear and patients can do very well for months or years until some other kind of stressor can cause the disease to "come out of hiding," after which time the symptoms tend to be slowly progressive over months or years. Often symptoms will get better and worse with a general trend to getting worse over time.
Symptoms of chronic Lyme disease also tend to be rather vague. Arthralgia (joint pain) tends to be common in 1 or more joints, and the pain may move between different joints at different time. Often people can have neurologic symptoms, most commonly "Brain Fog", but it can progress to the point of seizure like activity - sometimes multiple times per day. Headaches are common, frequently severe. In severe cases there can be cardiac involvement. The bacteria can hang out in practically any organ or location in the body which can lead to a host of potential symptoms.
How is it Diagnosed?
Classically, Lyme disease is diagnosed by an astute physician noticing a bulls-eye like rash within a relatively short timeframe after a tick bite. In that case, antibiotics can (hopefully) prevent any further problems from a chronic infection. Dr Vance takes tick bites seriously, not waiting to see if someone gets sick first.
There are lab tests for Lyme disease, typically done later on in the course when people have multiple symptoms that can't easily be explained by another disease. Unfortunately, the tests aren't typically all that good, and can miss up to half the afflicted patients. Many patients can go for years without a proper diagnosis, getting progressively sicker until someone thinks of ordering the test.
As mentioned above, treatment early in the course of the acute infection provides the best chance of preventing long-term problems. After it has gone to the chronic stage, things are much more difficult, and antibiotics are much less likely to be of benefit.
Here at Vance Medical, we use antibiotics for acute Lyme disease, but rarely for chronic Lyme. The treatments which we DO use tend to fall in the more broad-spectrum natural type realm - things like IV Vitamin C, Ozone, Ultra-Violet Blood Irradiation, HOCATT ozone saunas, etc.
In certain circumstances we can also have tremendous success treating with Low Dose Immunotherapy. Dr Vance is one of the very first doctors in the world to treat Lyme using this modality and has extensive experience with it..