What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an infection transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick. The tick transmits a spiral shaped bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi, which can rapidly disseminate throughout the body. While the adult ticks primarily feed on deer, the nymphal (immature) tick which is most likely to transmit the lyme bacteria feed on squirrels, mice, lizards, rabbits and certain birds.
Where is Lyme Disease Found?
Lyme Disease has been reported in all 50 states with much higher concentrations in the east, midwest, and northwest part of the US. In the south, a lyme like infection, STARI (Southern rash-associated tick illness), is more common. Lyme disease has also been reported throughout much of the world.
Early Lyme Disease
Early lyme disease refers to the symptoms that develop within the first few weeks after a tick bite. Typically, the person will develop mild flu like symptoms including low-grade fevers, muscle aches, fatigue, and/or joint pains. There may be a rash at the site of the tick bite, typically an unremarkable red rash. The typical lyme rash will occur within a few days to perhaps weeks after the tick bite. It may occur at the site of the bite or at a distant location. Usually it is a red expanding rash sometimes with a clear center ("bulls eye"). It may have a scabby, bruise-like or blistery appearance. Multiple lesions are also possible. Early in the course of the infection, testing is of limited value as it takes several weeks for the body to develop antibodies. Waiting to treat it, on the other hand, will allow the infection to spread making it much more difficult to eradicate. Take pictures of the rash and see your doctor immediately.
Chronic Lyme Disease
Chronic Lyme disease can develop over a period of weeks, months, or even years after initial exposure when the initial illness is not recognized or inadequately treated. Symptoms may develop associated with the brain and spinal cord, heart and circulation, gastrointestinal tract, or the musculoskeletal system depending on where the borrelia organism has invaded. Click here to review the varied symptoms associated with Chronic Lyme disease.
Treatment of Chronic Lyme Disease
The mainstay of treatment for chronic lyme disease is antibiotics. The regimen is designed with the patient's symptoms in mind as well as the types of coinfections present. While antibiotics are a powerful tool, for some patients they just are not enough. These individuals will typically relapse within weeks to months of discontinuing therapy, sometimes even after protracted intravenous antibiotics. It is, therefore, imperative that a comprehensive treatment program be designed that addresses these factors that can interfere with an individual's recovery. The presence of chronic viruses, methylation cycle defects, and accumulation of heavy metals are just some of the factors that can compromise the immune system to the point where antibiotics simply cannot give you lasting recovery. It should also be mentioned here that there are a number of non-antibiotic approaches (including electromedicine, herbs, & homeopathy among others) to treating chronic lyme disease. While it has been Dr. Patel's experience that any one of these tools by themselves is inadequate for treating chronically ill lyme patients, they can be invaluable as adjunctive treatments to antibiotics in eradicating these infections.