Lyme Disease and Insect-borne Illness
Could your symptoms be caused by Lyme Disease?
- Do you have unexplained symptoms of fatigue, vision problems, joint or muscle pain, brain fog, or an uncharacteristic onset of a change in behavior?
- Have you been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches, or a neurological disorder?
- Do you think your symptoms may be related to Lyme Disease exposure?
- Do you think your symptoms can’t be Lyme Disease because you never had a rash or tick bite?
- Have you been to other medical specialists (infectious disease doctor, rheumatologist ) and find you are not improving and still have the same symptoms?
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme Disease is an infection caused by the spirchete bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), which can cause a constellation of symptoms ranging from fatigue and joint pain to serious neurological problems.
Lyme Disease can range from a sudden acute Lyme infection to a slow erosion of health from persistent Lyme Disease. An acute infection comes on suddenly , similar to flu symptoms and a tick bite or bulls eye rash may or may not be seen. A persistent Lyme infection or “Lyme presence” may result from prior exposure and may present as a general decline in health or persistent health problems of unknown cause, or may exhibit as a set of brand new symptoms, which can be mild or severe.
There are at least 5 subspecies of Borrelia burgdorferi, over 100 strains in the US, and 300 strains worldwide. This diversity is thought to contribute to the antigenic variability of the spirochete to evade being picked up on Lyme testing, evade the immune system and antibiotic therapy, leading to chronic infection.
Furthermore, a person with Lyme disease may be co-infected with other organisms and “co-infections” often require different antibiotic therapy compared to Lyme Disease.
How We Treat Lyme Disease and Co-Infections
Acute Lyme Disease infection responds well to aggressive antibiotic, anti protozoal therapy. There is no universally accepted treatment. During chronic or persistent Lyme infection, the organism burrows deep into tissues that some antibiotics can reach only marginally. This is but one of many reasons why a two-to-four week treatment cannot eliminate chronic infection. The two most common reasons people do not respond to Lyme Disease treatment are untreated co-infections and/or the presence of heavy metals in the body.
The consensus opinion of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) and many other healthcare professionals is that an individualized treatment approach is necessary based on clinical judgment.
- Reduce the Lyme Disease and Microbial Burden on the Body
- Support the Immune System
A logical way to approach Lyme Disease treatment is to reduce the microbial burden in the body- clear it out- and restore immune function, thus restoring healthy balance again. The Lyme burden may be cleared out of the body with antibiotics and/or herbal supplements. Immune system support is key to health and healing.
Here are the facts about Lyme Disease:
- Lyme Disease can be hard to diagnose and may present a confusing picture. 50% of people with documented Lyme do not have a history of tick bite or rash.
- Lyme Disease is today’s “modern masquerader” and can masquerade as arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Bell's palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, Alzheimer's, neurological disorders or psychiatric disorders, especially in the later stages. Lyme Disease presents in a variety of ways.
- Lyme Disease is the most common vector-borne infection in the USA and Europe. About 90% of cases occur in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, with Maryland one of the top 10 states.
- Co-infections and other opportunistic chronic infections such as bartonella, babesia, erlichia,candida, parasites and herpes virus are often found with Lyme Disease. The presence of co-infection with these organisms points to probable infection with the Lyme spirochete as well. If these coinfections are left untreated, their continued presence increases morbidity and may prevent successful treatment of Lyme disease.
- Lyme Disease can evade the immune system and may not show up on diagnostic Lyme tests.
- If you suspect Lyme Disease it it important to treat it as early as possible.
Multi-Faceted, Integrative Medical Approach to Lyme Disease and Co-Infections
There is no universally accepted treatment. During chronic infection the organism burrows deep into tissues that some antibiotics can reach only marginally. This is but one of many reasons why a two-to-four week treatment cannot eliminate chronic infection. The consensus opinion of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) and many other healthcare professionals is that an individualized treatment approach is necessary based on clinical judgment.
We find that no one treatment option works best for everyone and the Lyme Disease treatment plan must be customized based on history, physical exam and symptoms. We participate in the following communities for the most up to date Lyme Disease information: ILADS, Burrascano, Buhner, Klinghardt.
Lyme-literate doctors (LLMD) have received additional education and training specifically for insect borne illness (like Lyme Disease ) and will treat based on your history and symptoms using a multi-faceted holistic approach for the best outcome.
Lab Testing for Lyme Disease
We use the most reliable and up to date Lyme Disease and co-infection testing available including traditional lab testing, Igenix, Neuroscience, Western Blot, CD 57, Urine test for babesia and other tests as needed.
Of the many patients with acute culture-proven Lyme disease, 20–30% remain seronegative on serial Western Blot sampling. Antibody titers also appear to decline over time; thus while the Western Blot may remain positive for months, it may not always be sensitive enough to detect chronic infection with the Lyme spirochete.
Comprehensive Lyme Disease Treatment
I. Reduce the Microbial Burden on the Body
- Antibiotic Therapy following ILADS protocol
- Because Lyme Disease can cause severe consequences antibiotic therapy is usually recommended based on ILADs protocols.
- Herbal Therapy Supplementation
- Herbal therapy if you cannot take antibiotics, or prefer herbals, based on the work of Buhner that may help kill the bacteria, relieve symptoms and/or strengthen your immune system.
II. Support the Immune System with Additional Therapies
Every patient needs to support their immune system in order to heal. This may done with IV Therapy, Nutritional support, herbal supplementation, digestive support and detoxification therapies (e.g. infrared sauna, colon hydrotherapy, aqua chi foot bath) based on your symptoms and the direction of your doctor.
If you suspect Lyme Disease it it important to treat it as early as possible.
Should you find a tick:
1. Remove the tick immediately with tweezers, pulling straight out.
2. Save the tick in a plastic baggie with a damp cotton ball (ticks can be tested for Lyme and co-infections).
3. Call our office as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.
International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) Lyme Disease Solution book
ILADS Top 10 Tips to Prevent Chronic Lyme Disease
National Capital Lyme Disease Association
Film Website www.underourskin.com
Books: Cure Unknown by Pam Wautraub, 2009 Winner of Medical non-fiction award
Insights into Lyme Disease Treatment by Connie Strasheim
The Lyme Disease Survival Guide by Connie Strasheim
The Lyme Disease Solution by Dr. Kenneth Singleton
Lyme Disease Foundation
Lyme Disease Association
Lyme Disease Network