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What is Lyme Disease and Why You Shouldn't Leave It Untreated

What is Lyme Disease

It is the most common vector-borne disease in America, caused by the bacterium (pathogenic spirochete) Borrelia burgdorferi and, in rare cases, by Borrelia mayonii. Infected black-legged ticks transmit Lyme Disease to humans through biting. Preventive measures for Lyme disease include:

  • The use of insect repellents

  • Removing ticks immediately after they bite

  • Application of pesticides

  • Creating a tick-free habitat

The ticks that infect humans with Lyme disease can sometimes transfer other tickborne diseases too.

Lyme Disease Stages and Symptoms

Lyme disease progression is divided into three stages:

  • early localized

  • early disseminated

  • late disseminated

The signs and symptoms experienced by the infected person will depend on the disease stage they are in. Sometimes these stages may overlap. The symptoms and progression of Lyme disease can vary by individual. Some people with Lyme do not undergo all three phases.

Early Localized Disease - Stage 1

Lyme disease symptoms usually start to appear in 1 to 2 weeks following the tick bite - bulls-eye rash being one of the earliest manifestations.

Usually, the rash develops at the tick bite site as an expanding red area surrounding a clear zone with a central red spot, looking like a bull's eye. It may feel warm when touched, but it does not cause any painful or itchy sensations. In most people, this rash fades away with time.

This rash is medically termed erythema migrans. Though this symptom does not occur in most people, erythema migrans are supposed to be the main indication of Lyme disease. On the other hand, some infected people may develop a solid red rash, whereas people having darker complexions may get a rash resembling a bruise.

Additional symptoms usually observed in this stage of Lyme disease involve:

  • headaches

  • fever

  • chills

  • sore throat

  • fatigue

  • enlarged lymph nodes

  • vision changes

  • muscle aches

Early Disseminated Lyme Disease - Stage 2

2nd stage of Lyme disease occurs in 1 - 4 months after the tick bite.

The patient experiences an overall feeling of unwellness with a rash appearing on different body areas. Systemic infection is the primary characteristic of this stage of the disease, indicating that the whole body has become infected by the pathogen.

Symptoms of Lyme disease stage 2 often include:

  • multiple erythema multiforme (EM) lesions

  • irregularities in heart rhythm caused by Lyme carditis

  • neurologic symptoms (tingling, numbness, facial and cranial nerve paralysis, and meningitis)

It is possible for the symptoms of stages 1 and 2 to overlap sometimes.

Late Disseminated Lyme Disease - Stage 3

Late disseminated infection occurs in months to years following tick bite if the condition remains untreated in 1st two stages.

This stage has characteristic symptoms such as:

  • swelling and tenderness of large joints (one or more)

  • brain disorders, like encephalopathy resulting in short-term memory loss, trouble concentrating, unclear mind, difficulties with understanding conversations, and sleep disturbance

  • loss of sensation in the hands, arms, legs, or feet

Signs and Symptoms that Rarely Occur

Some people also develop the following symptoms weeks after infection:

  • Eye inflammation

  • Heart problems

  • Hepatitis

  • Severe fatigue

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Children

Generally, Lyme disease symptoms that occur in children are the same as in adults. Most commonly, the children feel:

  • fatigued

  • pain in joints and muscles

  • high temperature

  • flu-like symptoms

These manifestations may occur right after they become infected or months to years later.

Not every child with Lyme disease would have a bulls-eye rash. Results of an early study revealed that only 89 percent of children with Lyme had a rash.

Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS)

Lyme disease results from the infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Although the majority of Lyme disease patients are cured after completing a 2 to 4-week course of oral antibiotics, some can still have symptoms of fatigue, pain, or trouble thinking, which may last for six months or more after the treatment. This condition is termed as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), Post-Lyme Disease Syndrome (PLDS), or Chronic Lyme Disease.

The exact reason why some people go through PTLDS is still not known. According to some experts, Borrelia burgdorferi triggers an autoimmune response that causes symptoms to persist even after the elimination of the infection. Autoimmune reactions are also known to happen after other infections, including chlamydia (Reiter's syndrome), campylobacter (Guillain-Barré syndrome), and strep throat (rheumatic heart disease). Other experts, on the contrary, believe that chronic Lyme disease is a result of persistent but difficult-to-detect infection.

Treating Lyme with long-term antibiotics can lead to severe and sometimes even deadly complications. Most patients encountering persistent symptoms of PTLDS will recover with time. Though, it may take several months for them to feel entirely well. So far, no standard treatment for PTLDS exists.

Why are Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Infections So Severe

Patients with PTLDS appear to have a high spirochete load because of either many tick bites or remaining unrecognized for Lyme for a prolonged duration. Unsurprisingly numerous people do not remember getting bitten or having a rash. After an extended period, mucopolysaccharides biofilms are created that protect bacterial niches.

Moreover, the persistence of more resistant spirochete forms, the cystic and pleomorphic forms of Borrelia burgdorferi, causes an additional suppression of the patient's immune system.

Diagnosis

Lab tests are performed to identify the antibodies produced in the host against bacterial infection, which help rule out the diagnosis. These tests provide the most reliable results when conducted within the first few weeks after the tick bite (when the body develops antibodies). They include:

  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test: This is the most commonly used test for identifying Lyme disease. ELISA detects antibodies formed in the human body to B. burgdorferi. However, diagnosis isn't confirmed based solely on this test because it can provide false-positive results sometimes. This lab test may not give positive results during an early stage of Lyme infection, though the distinctive rash is enough to confirm the diagnosis, and no further testing is required in people living in areas infested with black-legged ticks.

  • Western blot test: In case the ELISA test results are positive, the diagnosis is further verified using this test. In this two-step method, the Western blot test validates the presence of antibodies against several proteins of B. burgdorferi.

Standard Treatment for Lyme

So far, antibiotics are the only traditional treatment option to treat Lyme disease. The patients tend to recover quicker and have better outcomes if treatment starts sooner.

Antibiotics

  • Oral antibiotics: These are the conventional treatment option for the early stages of Lyme disease. Commonly used antibiotic agents are:

    • Doxycycline - suitable for adults and children of eight years or more

    • Amoxicillin or cefuroxime - given to younger children, adults, and pregnant or lactating women

    • Doctors usually recommend a 14 to 21-day course of antibiotics, but modern research suggests that 10 to 14 days courses are equally efficient.

  • Intravenous antibiotics: In case the disease starts to affect the patient's central nervous system, the doctor would suggest 14 to 28 days long intravenous antibiotic treatment.

    This approach, in most cases, eliminates infection entirely, but the patient may experience symptoms for some time, even after recovery. Intravenous antibiotic therapy has many side effects, such as a reduced white blood cell count, moderate to severe diarrhea, or colonization of antibiotic-resistant organisms that may cause disease other than Lyme.

A few patients still undergo some symptoms, like muscle aches and fatigue after completing the treatment. The reason why symptoms continue to appear is undiscovered, and antibiotics no longer help the patient.

The Complication with Antibiotic Therapy

According to a study on antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy published by ASM journal in June 2015, borrelia burgdorferi could form drug-tolerant persister cells. Unfortunately, these cells survive antibiotics due to the dormancy they achieve by antigenically changing their surface components and reducing exposure. This ability to remain undetected, along with the biofilms, makes antimicrobials ineffective. Therefore, Silver Cancer Institute and Center for Chronic Disease is now offering intermittent pulsing therapy along with the use of natural herbs and supplements to help overcome the biofilm and completely kill the pathogen.

Specialized Treatment at Silver Cancer Institute and Center for Chronic Disease

Determining a treatment strategy based on the individual's genetic profile is solely personalized medicine, and it is necessary to evaluate each case in-depth. SCI offers personalized treatments custom-tailored for every patient, based on their genetic information and previous treatment profile, explicitly designed to ensure optimum progress. SOT, intravenous, and herbal therapies hold immense importance in a patient's treatment plan. The patient can also receive antibiotics in low and sparing doses if they desire to. High doses of antibiotics are usually avoided, focusing on the survival strategy of these microbes and their resistance to antibiotic therapy.

Natural Substances as a Treatment Option

Using natural substances as an integrative approach is a reliable and safest method of purifying the body from toxins, eliminating infections, and stabilizing the patient's immune function.

Herbal Therapies

Some herbs naturally happen to have a wide range of antimicrobial properties, and fortunately, this therapeutic activity of herbs can now be evaluated.

Besides having antibacterial, antiprotozoal, antiviral, and antifungal activity, some herbs are potent anti-inflammatory agents and help restore the patient's immunity. Their antioxidant ability also shields the body against cancer, cardiac diseases, and several other conditions neutralizing free radicals.

Adding herbal therapies to the Lyme disease treatment plan proves very useful because of synergistic interactions of herbs and sporadic development of bacterial resistance.

Supportive Oligonucleotide Technique (SOT)

As a treatment, SOT therapy from Research Genetic Cancer Centre utilizes the messenger RNA to modify the Lyme or viral infection genes. The laboratory identifies particular genes in the Lyme organism and viruses, which are then targeted to damage and kill these microbes. This type of therapy is also called antisense therapy, in which almost 1 billion copies of antisense oligonucleotides are created to fight Lyme and co-infections. At SCI, patients are always given SOT therapy combined with herbs, natural substances, oxidative therapy, and antibiotics.

Intravenous Therapy for Lyme and Co-infections

New anti-inflammatory intravenous therapies can provide a boost to the immune system that it needs to combat infections. Also, they can repair tissues affected by Lyme disease. Most patients exhibit improvement in their energy level and restoration of muscle strength.

To get more information on Lyme disease or its treatment plan, feel free to call us at 480-860-2030 or visit our website www.silvercancerinstitute.com.

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