Lyme disease is a challenging infectious disease that, if not treated completely, could lead to a chronic condition. The challenge is made more difficult by the co-occurrence of several other troublesome bacteria with the Lyme bacteria. Full evaluation and treatment address the symptoms of all these bacteria.
The infections that occur with the Lyme bacteria (Borrellia burgdorfii) are Babesia, Erlichia, Anaplasma and Bartonella.
The Lyme bacteria is insidious because it exists in at least three forms in our bodies: the free flowing bacteria in the bloodstream, the bacterial form that hides inside cells and evades identification and basic antibiotic therapy, and the encysted form which also evades diagnosis and treatment. For this reason a Lyme test, either the titer test or the Western Blot test, may be negative even though the bacterium is present in the body. In other words, a negative test cannot definitely tell you that you do not have Lyme. It can only say that at this time, in this sample, the Lyme organism has not been identified. Some people need many Lyme tests before the bacterium is finally identified.
When a Lyme infection is recent, a bull’s-eye rash can occur. Only about 30% of those bitten by a “Lyme tick” get the rash. Some may experience other types of rashes that look like bug bites or even eczema. This early indication of Lyme will require immediate treatment in all of its forms. Treatment for the co-infections may be necessary at this time as well.
Most people never know they have been bitten. If the tick is removed within six hours in a way that does not force the tick’s abdominal content through the mouth part into your body, then the likelihood of Lyme transmission is quite low. Be sure to do regular tick checks – even if just walking across the yard. If you have pets, do tick checks even if you haven’t gone outside. Your pet can bring the ticks in to you.
When a person has unusual or unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, joint aches, weird electric-like feelings, brain fog, unusual troubles with sleep, or mood instability, a Lyme test is often appropriate. At Greenwich Integrative Medicine, under these circumstances, we run a very detailed test that must be sent out. In addition to checking for the basic Lyme titer and Western Blot test, this test also looks for the DNA of the Lyme organism. The testing may be expanded to look for the co-infections as well.
Treatment for acute Lyme begins as soon as a person has been bitten by a tick, and changes according to the results of tick testing. If the tick tests negative, treatment is stopped. If the tick tests positive, treatment continues for up to three weeks. At Greenwich Integrative Medicine we give people an initial course of antibiotics if they have been bitten by a deer tick, but do not have the tick to submit for testing.
If a person has been identified with Lyme disease at a time remote from the potential exposure, treatment for Lyme and co-infections are begun and last at least two months. This treatment may include several antibiotics to address all forms of Lyme disease as well as supplements and medications that support the liver and the intestines. Other antibiotics may be added to cover the likely co-infections as well. Control of yeast overgrowth in the gut is an important component of the treatment. Our goal is to manage the Lyme so that the body’s immune system can keep it in check. There is no evidence that chronic Lyme disease can be eradicated from a person. Ongoing management with the fewest courses of antibiotics is the goal of therapy.
In addition, the physician must discern between the effects of Lyme and co-infections and the consequences of long-term antibiotic therapy. Unfortunately, some of the same symptoms of Lyme disease may be caused by the consequences of long-term antibiotic therapy. In addition, for therapy to be successful, the person’s liver and detoxification system, gut and digestive system, and anti-inflammatory systems must all be in good working order. Stress can also get in the way of therapy and may need to be addressed
One Patient’s Experience: “When I came to see Dr. Roca, Lyme Disease had contributed to my body functioning at a very low level. I was sick a lot, which was so different than my normal behavior. Through the past few years, under the watchful eye of Dr. Roca and his staff, I have become educated and continue to learn about the disease. Today, this soon-to-be 65-year-old feels like 40. Many thanks to Dr. Roca for turning my life around.” – P.A., New Canaan, CT