Must Know: Lyme Disease
What is Lyme Disease?
What are the Three Stages of Lyme Disease?
- 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?
- 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.
How to Prevent Lyme Disease
- 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.