Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by a tick bite that affects millions of people world wide every single year. Unfortunately, lyme disease is not recognized as a real illness by the medical field, and this happens almost in all countries, however it does exist and devastates every aspect of the infected patient’s life, both psychologically and physically.
Lyme disease is passed to people by the black legged tick (Ixodes tick), which can easily be identified by its black legs and is widely spread in the United States, most commonly in states such as Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Rhode Island. Not all ticks carry the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme disease (the male ticks usually carry the borrelia bacteria).
Cases of lyme disease have been reported all over 50 U.S. states, in Canada, Europe and Asia and Australia.The number of people diagnosed with lyme disease is gradually increasing every single year (over 20,000 new cases are reported and confirmed every year in the U.S, however, there are a lot more than just 20,000).
The bacteria enters the bloodstream once the tick starts to penetrate the skin. In almost half of the cases, a circular rash also known as the erythema migrans appears on the skin of the person that has been bitten, and the disease proceeds from there gradually.
The first stage in lyme disease is called the localized stage. A red-ringed rash (erythema migrans) appears on the surface of the skin where the tick has bit. The circular rash usually lasts up to four weeks in most of the cases. In the first stage of Lyme disease other symptoms such as extreme fatigue, headaches, achiness, joint pain, and swelling of lymph glands near the bite point may occur. Most infected patients end up in the emergency room after the bite, and unfortunately they’re given the wrong diagnosis.
The second stage, also known as the disseminated stage, of Lyme disease begins anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months after the bite. Symptoms of this stage of Lyme disease include rash areas nowhere near the bite point, severe fatigue and pressure headaches, irregular heart rhythm, sensitivity to light and sound, facial paralysis, muscle pain, back aches and muscle spasms. In some cases several other severe neurological symptoms can occur.
The last stage of Lyme disease is called the late stage. Symptoms in the late stage of Lyme disease can range from a few months up to a few years after the bacteria has entered the blood stream. Most people diagnosed with a late stage of Lyme Disease (chronic lyme disease) usually suffer from arthritis, especially in the elbows and knees, chronic fatigue, headaches and other neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Lyme disease can be treated and it’s usually done with antibiotics. As in most of the other bacterial infections, it’s better to be diagnosed in the early stages, hence the more effective and less severe the treatment will be. Treatment consists of oral intravenous antibiotics that helps in combating the bacterium. Lyme disease is often a treatable condition, unfortunately most people do not get a proper diagnose and they’re treated for other illnesses that are most likely just a symptom of Lyme disease. Doctors recommend prevention techniques to avoid Lyme disease all over the world.
Important facts about tick bites and Lyme disease:
* Lyme disease is not easy to diagnose, blood tests in 50% of the cases are not accurate, that is why getting educated about Lyme Disease is vital, especially if you have been infected. In most cases, some patients aren’t aware that they have been bitten by a tick and they’re infected.
* A lot of patients that have been infected with the borrelia bacteria are misdiagnosed for years or even decades. Lyme Disease can mimic at least 100 to 300 other serious conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Chron’s Disease, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
- click here for the entire list of conditions that are related to Lyme Borreliosis – Note that this list is for informational purposes only, if you happen to have any of these conditions, that doesn’t mean you are infected with the borrelia bacteria, however it is possible and it’s highly recommended that you do see a doctor and get tested for Lyme Disease as soon as possible.
* In most cases, a tick must be attached to your body for 24 – 36 hours to spread the bacteria to your blood, however that doesn’t mean you cannot get infected in just under one hour since the tick has attached to your body. If you suddenly start feeling ill then you are most likely infected and need to see an infectious disease specialist or an LLMD (lyme literate specialist).
* Black legged ticks can be so small that they are almost impossible to see. Many people with Lyme disease never even saw a tick on their body.
Blood Tests For Lyme Disease
A blood test can be done to check for antibodies to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. The most commonly used is the ELISA for Lyme disease test. After the ELISA test is done, a secondary test called western blot test is performed to confirm ELISA results.
Sometimes, it’s vital that your health care provider is able to diagnose the early disseminated stage of Lyme Disease (Stage 1) without having doing any blood tests. This will usually happen if you have found the tick and/or know that you have been bitten recently. (a specialist should prescribe a treatment right away).
Antibody Testing For Lyme Disease
Other tests that may be done, when the infection has become more widespread:
* Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
* Borreliacidal Antibody Assay (BAT)
* T-Cell Activation Test
* Lyme Urine Antigen Test (LUAT)
* Tissue Biopsy and Stainin
* Dark Field Microscopy (DFM)
* Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
* Spinal Tap (Lumbar puncture to examine spinal fluid)
* MRI of the Brain (Magnetic resonance imaging)