Lyme disease is a hot topic right now. The publicity and awareness surrounding this disease is on the rise, and this is a good thing. However, with so many news reports, articles, and social media posts about Lyme disease, it can be hard to identify the proven facts.
Our goal at AHCC Research is to provide you with the most up-to-date information we can about your health and wellness. In this post we give you the facts on what Lyme disease is, what you need to know about the disease, and other educational resources. Please share this post with your friends, family, colleagues, and social media channels – the more awareness about Lyme disease – the better.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacterium called a spirochete that is carried by deer ticks. When an infected deer tick bites a human or animal, the bacterium is transmitted, causing a range of Lyme disease symptoms. The bacterium travels through the bloodstream and Lyme disease then becomes a multisystem inflammatory disease.
In its early stages, the location of the tick bite is affected and then if left untreated, Lyme disease spreads to the joints, nervous system, and potentially organs. When Lyme disease is caught and treated early with antibiotics, the disease can be cured.
What are the Three Stages of Lyme Disease?
There are three stages of Lyme disease that you need to understand. It’s important to note that these three stages of the disease can progress very quickly. When treating Lyme disease, the sooner it’s identified, the better.
- Stage 1 of Lyme disease: This is the early sign of an infection and occurs within the first few days of an infected tick bite. The early symptoms of Lyme disease include flu-like sensations (headache, fever, fatigue, sore throat, dry cough, muscle aches) and/or a rash at the site of the bite. The rash can start within a few days (or weeks) after the bite and typically grows as the days pass.
- Stage 2 of Lyme disease: In the first few days or weeks after the tick bite, the infection spreads in the body. The bacterium travels through the blood stream infecting a range of areas including the joints, nervous system, and potentially organs. The symptoms during the second stage of Lyme disease include: blurry vision, seizures, paralysis, eye pain, numbness, tremors, encephalitis, and Bell’s Palsy. A range of treatments are available and it’s imperative to take action, or Lyme disease will progress to Chronic Lyme disease.
- Stage 3 of Lyme disease: Chronic Lyme disease can occur in the days or weeks after the infection or if Lyme disease is not properly treated, it can happen months or years after the initial tick bite. At this stage of the disease, it’s very challenging to effectively treat patients. Symptoms of stage three Lyme disease include: worsening neurological symptoms, encephalopathy, and Chronic Lyme Arthritis. Chronic Lyme disease can impact multiple body systems, including hormone production.
How is Lyme Disease Treated?
The treatment approach for Lyme disease depends on the progress of the disease. Because the symptoms of each stage of Lyme disease are very different, the treatment approaches are also very different.
It’s best to discuss your treatment options with your doctor and ensure there is a comprehensive treatment plan in-place should you not respond to initial treatment.
- Antibiotics. Researchers and doctors have learned that antibiotics are most effective in the early stage of Lyme disease. Typically, your doctor prescribes oral antibiotics for a two to three week period. For some people, a single course of antibiotics is insufficient and in these cases a second round of antibiotics may be prescribed.
- Intravenous Medication. Because Lyme disease can remain dormant for weeks, months, or even years, when it is finally identified, the disease is beyond oral antibiotic treatment. Intravenous treatment is used when Lyme disease has reached stage two. Because there can be multiple infections and impacted organs, this intravenous treatment can include antibiotics and other supportive therapies. Supportive therapies can include physical therapy, antidepressants, anti-inflamatories, and stomach acid control.
- Intramuscular Treatment. This treatment approach involves injecting patients intramuscularly with antibiotics. This treatment provides a slow and sustained release of antibiotics over a period of time and can help people who do not respond to oral antibiotics.
- Pulse and Combination Therapy. This is a relatively new approach to Lyme disease treatment that has shown to be effective in some patients. This treatment approach uses a controlled combination of antibiotic treatments that coincide with Lyme disease flares.
- AHCC Supplementation. For those who have reached chronic stages of Lyme disease, addressing inflammation is critical to manage this disease. Giving the immune system an assist in the form of more active immune cells can help reduce the body’s inflammation and could also assist the body in eliminating the disease in the early stages. A small pilot human clinical study conducted at The Salerno Center for Complementary Medicine in New York by Dr. John Salerno, found that after just 8 weeks of using AHCC supplementation patients with Lyme disease experienced a significant reduction in inflammation, improvement in flu-like symptoms and less joint and muscle manifestations.
Chronic Lyme disease is more complicated to treat. The treatment of Chronic Lyme disease requires a personalized approach developed based on the patient history and previous treatments. Treatment of Chronic Lyme disease treatment can last months or years.
How to Prevent Lyme Disease
Unfortunately, the best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid the grassy, wooded, bushy areas where deer ticks live. However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid going out in nature for hikes, runs, camping, mountain biking, etc.
You can take some small steps that go a long way in reducing your likelihood of tick bites:
- Cover exposed skin. When you’re out in woody or grassy areas, make sure your skin is covered. Tuck your pants into your socks. Wear shoes or hiking boots. Wear a long sleeve shirt. Wear a hat and gloves. Try to avoid brushing up against tall grass or low bushes.
- Use an insect repellent. An insect repellent with a 20 per cent or higher concentration of DEET can be effective. Apply this to any exposed skin, avoiding your hands, eyes, and mouth. You can also treat your clothing with permethrin or buy permethrin treated clothing.
- Always check yourself for ticks. When returning from a hike, run, mountain bike ride, or camping trip – check yourself for ticks. Remember, deer ticks are very small and can look like freckles. Ask a family member to check your back, buttocks, neck and anywhere else you can’t easily see.
- Remove ticks as quickly as possible. Use tweezers to grab the tick by its head or mouth. Avoid squishing or crushing the tick. When the entire tick has been removed, apply an antiseptic to the bite area. Put the tick in a sealed container and take it to your health practitioner for analysis. Pay attention to the bite area, looking for a rash and be aware of the stage one symptoms of Lyme disease.
How to Learn More About Lyme Disease
Visit these websites to learn more about Lyme disease. Remember, if you’ve been out in areas where ticks are prevalent, and you have a rash or unexplained symptoms – contact your healthcare practitioner immediately.
- American Lyme Disease Foundation
- Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Protecting Yourself from Lyme Disease